New Covent Garden Market was named the winner of the Hero Award at the prestigious 2021 FPC Fresh Awards on Friday 4 November.
The new award was presented for the gargantuan efforts of the entire Market community during the pandemic, to provide a consistent supply of healthy food to people across London and the South East when they most needed it.
When the COVID-19 lockdown dramatically brought the British hospitality industry to a grinding halt on March 21, 2020, traders across New Covent Garden Market (NCGM) were hit particularly hard.
However, wholesalers and catering suppliers at the Fruit and Vegetable Market responded quickly to the capital’s hour of need and combined to ensure that London’s food supply chain continued to function.
The swift adaptation of traditional business models allowed them to serve consumers unable to purchase food through their normal channels. Just as importantly, a whole host of charitable efforts, both by individual firms and market-wide partnerships, ensured that those in most need during the pandemic were given access to nutritious food.
The vast majority of those initiatives were undertaken without fuss or fanfare, as the generous nature of the wholesale trade shone through and people at NCGM worked tirelessly not just to keep their own businesses afloat, but also to support the changing needs of the local and regional population.
“So many people went the extra mile and this award is recognition of the incredible work ethic and the selfless and caring nature of the amazing people in our Market,” said Jo Breare, General Manager of Covent Garden Market Authority.
“The award recognises our tenants, the team at CGMA, our service contractors for the Market and the work of our development partners during the pandemic. We all pulled together and emerged from a difficult period in a very positive place.”
Gary Marshall, Chairman of the Covent Garden Tenants Association, added: “I have always been proud of the generosity of spirit in this market and it’s no real surprise to me that everyone here stood up to be counted at such a difficult time.
"When most businesses were not and could not be sure of how they would come out at the other end of the pandemic, so many people could not have done any more. We are perceived by many to be a foodservice market these days, but in reality we cross all parts of the retail and catering sectors and we showed that again when our local and regional communities needed us most, we were there for them, as we always are.
“During my 15 years as Chairman of the CGTA, we have raised well in excess of £600,000 for our selected charities, and again we’ve shown that we are the Market that continues to give.
"Thank you to everyone at New Covent Garden Market for everything they did and thank you to our customers and our suppliers for their continued support and understanding over the last 18 months. It won’t be forgotten.”