The food eco-system is fundamental to a large number of our regions businesses. Living on the edge of Scotland and England we are used to bouncing back from the occasional invading armies moving north or south. During COVID we have witnessed the fortitude of part of this system. As lockdown opens up again we will see even more examples from our brilliant regional business eco-system.
Our food producers have done a brilliant job over the last seven weeks. Every week on behalf of This is Cumbria we have thanked the numerous food businesses that ensured we all had food on our tables.
There are numerous stories of delis ( Keswick Cheese & Penrith Chopping Block) brewers (Carlisle Brewers) cheese makers (Butlers Larder), pie makers (The Pie Mill whose father died of COVID), donut makers (Bruce and Luke’s) and butter makers (Winter Tarn Dairy) coming together to offer solutions for us consumers. Others like Shed1Gin even managed to produce hand sanitiser at a time when supply was dangerously low. Our map grew exponentially as people shared good news from across the county.
So once more we say thank you to the great food and drink producers from our place.
Food Retailers and Wholesalers
With the closure of hotels and restaurants food wholesalers pivoted their models to service the public rather than business. Our local brands such as the Pioneer , Caterite, McClures & Cranstons and so many more served us well. We should remember that even though they were extremely busy serving the public they had in many cases lost most of their income that came from servicing the hotel and restaurant industries.
From the larger independents such as Booths to the smaller village stores such as Cartmell Food Shed they have all kept us going. They have all done this in times of great uncertainty. We will always owe these guys a debt of gratitude. They have not had the stay at home break and still face the same uncertain future that we all do.
Restaurants and cafes
With the enforced close-down only allowing takeaways many of these businesses simply could not operate. Those that did had to build a takeaway system from scratch, work with the uncertainty of COVID and manage a business with a fall in turnover of at least 80%.
With the loosening of the Stay at Home Message more restaurants and cafes can now operate. They have changed their business model to delivery or collection. At the same time, they must plan for a future social distancing post COVID world.
Over the coming weeks these guys will work the second miracle of our food eco-system. Most of us won’t notice. So please stop and think. These businesses will have to offer takeaway food from a business set up to serve food at tables. They will have to work out how to package the meals, deal with outside orders, deliveries, collections, and online payments. At a time when the rules on social distancing evolve. When they will probably only achieve part of their previous turnover and must plan for the eventual reopening of their proper business.
At the same time all their wholesalers still must balance the demands of their new public consumers with trying to support the restaurants who to begin with will not know how much limited stock to carry.
The next stage is starting
There are so many food businesses doing this already. Here are just a few:
Halston in Carlisle : Sunday Roast to go
Lanercost Tea Rooms : offering weekend takeaways
Yewdale Inn Coniston : Fish and chip takeaways in Coniston
The Good Sister Carlisle : Picnic Boxes Carlisle
Paolos Fish & Chips : Collection Carlisle
There are so many more and we will happily add them to our map NO CHARGE
Supporting the food eco-system
Behind the front line quietly worked a band of businesses. They worked long hours hidden from public view and include web experts supporting the online changes like Sparrow Digital, Black Lab Software and Bungalistic to experts in the online cloud like Beaty Consultancy and digital marketing like KC Creative .Then there were finance companies smoothing the loan applications like Enterprise Answers and solicitors like Cartmell Shepherd helping with everything from employment advice to will making. There were also other individual experts such as accountants , food safety experts (ML3 Technical) and photographers capturing business images (Jenny Woolgar) playing their parts.
Behind the eco-system
A brilliant face group set up as Small Business Support Carlisle captures part of the eco-system coming back to life that can support the bounce back of the food eco system. We are all involved in this eco-system with everything from humanising the COVID safety message (Plus3k) to entertaining children online (Rainbow Jelly) and planning an online party to get us through this ( Happy out Loud Day)
We are so proud to be associated with all the large and small businesses in our eco-system and know our region can and will show the country how to truly bounce back from COVID19.
Please contact us with any thoughts you have on the food eco-system at Thomas Jardine and Co.