Spike in demand for fresh produce as more people start to shop locally

March 26, 2020

Local retailers have seen a spike in demand for fresh produce as more people start to shop locally, this combined with supply issues across the continent has caused a few products to be short in supply.

“Initially we couldn’t keep up as the demand increased so sharply and virtually overnight, especially for core veg, but we managed best we could with the options available,” explained Wilf Whittle from James Hall & Companies who supply over 600 SPAR stores in the UK.


“We had great support from local independent producers who have really helped us, potato growers and packers especially. It is mainly Spanish produce which is in short supply due to haulage and skeleton staff. We supply a lot of rural communities, so have responsibility to give the best we can.


It doesn’t take much to kick-start panic buying, people only need to buy a bit more than normal and it creates a snowball effect stretching an already problematic supply chain. Most of our produce is programmed in with growers to forecast weekly volumes but that quickly went out of the window.”


“The labour and logistical problems in Spain continues to be a daily headache, one of our suppliers said at the end of last week there was anywhere between 36-48 hour delay, also caused by a bottleneck at Calais.


"It is unprecedented times. We have looked at changing our pack size where can and to adapt to the market which seems to be changing by the hour. The key is to remain fluid and flexible to deliver to all our stores to make sure the end consumer can go to a local shop and get the produce they want or at the very least, the core products.”


Most SPAR shops supply the core products and James Hall try to get more products in to make it more dynamic, for example they have some mixed cherry tomatoes this weekend, as people are on lockdown.


“It’s hard to say how the lockdown will affect demand, maybe it will settle down in the coming weeks, who knows. All we know is that we are working around the clock with growers to make sure we have the best availability possible, we will definitely push seasonal products in the stores as the current situation is not sustainable.


“I would like to thank all of the local independent producers, growers, hauliers who have worked tirelessly and remained positive. Helping us to deliver the essential fresh products on the shelves in what was a crazy week.”


Source: Fresh Produce

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