If you’re the owner of a food and/or beverage business, you’ve most probably been hit really hard by the restrictions imposed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of you have been forced to close or are struggling with the question of adapting your food and beverage business to COVID-19.
We asked owners of food and beverage businesses all around the world what they are doing to adapt their business in a world suffering from the Coronavirus. This is what they had to say:
I am the owner of Local Food Adventures, a guided walking tour and food experiences provider out of Oakland and the East Bay of San Francisco. With the Princess Cruise ship being docked at the Port of Oakland in early March and the Bay Area being the first area in the country to mandate shelter in place, we were one of the first US destinations to feel the effects of the lockdown.
While we have lost all tour bookings and private groups scheduled pretty much for the rest of 2020, we are staying positive. In addition to working on website UX development and SEO blog and video post creation (all those things we never have time to do when times are good), I’m also working to help our small business partners, especially the restaurants and specialty food stores that are on our tours. I am using the marketing dollars I would have spent on more short-term digital ad outreach to do a daily Social Distancing #SupportSmallBiz Gift Card Giveaway every day on Instagram and Facebook.
This helps get the word out that gift cards are a great way to keep cash flow coming in to support small business now and give us all something to look forward to when we are all more comfortable coming together again.
Lauren McCabe Herpich, Local Food Adventures
I am reaching out to you from an Ontario, alcohol company; Ripshot. In 2015 four friends set out to create a tamper-proof, spill-proof, individually packaged shot in the hopes of mitigating issues we saw in the current alcohol industry. We had each heard countless stories of friends having their drinks contaminated at bars and parties and we found the idea of manoeuvring through a crowded place while trying to protect a shot for yourself or a friend to be quite difficult. Our shots are made with 100% post-consumer recycled plastic.
We have heard WHO and Health Canada’s cries for hand sanitizer and we are able to meet the needs. In March, we partnered with Health Canada to move forward with producing our hand sanitizer for the public. We’re dropping this off at shelters, food banks, hospitals and other high-volume facilities in urgent need. All free of charge. We are also working with government organizations (such as Corrections Canada) and retailers to have this distributed as quickly as possible and to as many people as possible.
SARAH KONOWAL, Ripshot Enterprises
Texas-based entrepreneur Merrilee Kick, president of alcoholic-beverage company Buzzballz, encouraged by her membership in the Women Presidents’ Organization, has joined with the medical community to help with the Coronavirus pandemic.
Buzzballz is the only woman-owned distillery/winery in the U.S. Last week, the WHO and the CDC came out with hand sanitizer formulation and waived the necessity to have a permit to manufacture it. Kick knew that her company had a lot of the necessary raw materials and was vertically integrated with the correct equipment. She started a fervent search for 100% glycerin to add to her mix and voila!, she had a major amount of hand sanitizer-a 100-gallon batch.
Initially her employees wanted to donate only. They donated the first batch to 3 of the 14 hospitals in the area that were in critical need. She also sent 8 cases to pathology labs such as Quest. Other requests followed — the city of Carrolton, TX, firefighters and police, airlines (Spirit, American), Texas Women’s University, supermarkets, the Air Force and the Army – all generated via word of mouth.
Not only has she helped front-line disease-fighting personnel, but she saved her business because the government isn’t allowed to take freebies. Her employees are happy they still have jobs and are working for a company that is so greatly helping COVID-19 first responders.
Merrilee Kick, Buzzballz
Our company, Sifted, is typically a corporate caterer, serving chef made lunches to companies all over the US. Since our client’s offices are closed we have opened up a new business called Sifted Provisions. We create custom grocery supply packs that can be picked up or delivered plus we ensure a no-contact service.
Emily Endara, Sifted
Hot Dog Stand
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spike demand for safe, top-quality plastic-sealed foods, the popular summer hot dog is having a moment well before its typical high season, with some retailers having reported a 300% increase in hot dog orders in recent weeks.
To keep up with this surging demand amidst a rapidly shifting landscape, Feltman’s of Coney Island–the world’s first hot dog brand (est. 1867), now a small, veteran-run business revived in 2015 by Brooklyn brothers Michael & Joe Quinn (in honor their late brother who died on 9/11) continues to adapt quickly, relying on the team’s former military training to navigate and prepare for spikes in panic buying and potential friction points in the supply and distribution chain as the pandemic unfolds across the country.
Available online and at 1,500+ grocery stores nationwide, Feltman’s 100% natural all-beef hot dogs are nitrate-free and safely vacuum–sealed in plastic to stay fresh for up to 60 days in the refrigerator, and up to 10 months in the freezer–a big sticking point with consumers.
With this in mind, the company quickly increased production by 150%, shored up their own inventory of raw materials, and secured additional storage facility space, in anticipation of rising supermarket and e-commerce demands.
On the retail front, they’ve been in constant contact with their retail buyers, which include Whole Foods, Hannaford, and The Fresh Market, among others, to stay ahead of retailers’ purchase orders, inventory, and storage needs amidst the rapidly shifting landscape.
On the e-commerce front, Feltman’s has taken steps to help offset some of the price gouging, shortages, and delays that many Americans first felt from other online retailers, by offering 10% off plus free nationwide shipping on all FeltmansofConeyIsland.com orders, no matter how big or small the purchase. Since waving their shipping fees, Feltman’s saw web sales jump by 200%.
To further enhance their customers’ product experiences, Feltman’s has also taken to its social media and digital marketing channels to showcase the versatility of their critically-acclaimed 100% natural hot dogs, sharing creative “outside-the-bun” recipes, from Cast Iron Hogies to Homestyle Chili, that home-bound customers can use to spice up their meals.
As a veteran-run family business, taking care of their customers and giving back to support those in need is at the core of Feltman’s business, especially during these unprecedented trying times. Last week, Feltman’s introduced a care package program which will provide free product to medical professionals, first responders, and service members working tirelessly on the front lines. If you know someone who could use an extra morale boost, nominate them to receive a Feltman’s care package here.
Feltman’s will continue to roll out additional social giveback initiatives, food donations, and discount programs in the coming weeks.
Michael Quinn, Feltmans of Coney Island
No doubt this is a tough time. For our business, Traverse Bay Farms a gourmet food business with two corporate stores, we are focusing on offering free recipes, curb-side delivery and more online sales.
Due to this, we have realized our customer list is the most valuable asset we have. They trust us, they enjoy our products and most importantly, trying times are the best time to show how much they mean your business.
Andy LaPointe, Traverse Bay Farms
If you’ve got a food or beverage business, we’d love to hear about what you’re doing to adapt to Coronavirus. Leave a comment below!