Foodservice wholesalers offer consumer services

A growing number of foodservice wholesalers are launching consumer-facing services as they continue to adapt to the coronavirus outbreak.

Wholesalers who usually provide to the hospitality sector are using the extra capacity gained by restaurant and hotel closures to offer home-delivery and click-and-collect services to people across the nation.

Businesses of different shapes and sizes, from big players such as Bidfood and JJ Foodservice to small independents including Dunsters Farm, are turning to the public to make up for the shortfall and keep the nation fed.

One of the first to make the change was Savona Foodservice, which rolled out its consumer-facing plan out of its Ilfracombe and Kidlington depots last week.

“With government news breaking as the week continues, the response from our local communities has inspired us to do more,” said Savona’s Group Digital Manager, Jenny Squire.

“Since we posted on social media that we’d opened our doors to the public in order to support the community through this difficult and unpredictable time.

“Following an incredible response in terms of engagement and people calling to place orders, we’ve extended this further by allowing anyone to place orders on our online platform, whereas it was just for trade accounts previously. We’ve been inundated with requests for online accounts since then.”

JJ Foodservice went live this weekend, offering key household essentials on a next-day delivery basis if orders exceed £79.

Even before the launch, the wholesaler was recording local demand in its branches had doubled in recent weeks and had extended night shifts to fulfil orders and increased the capacity of stock holding at all of its warehouses.

JJ Chief Operating Officer, Mushtaque Ahmed said: “With schools closing and many us required to work from home, having essential products like bottled water, fresh and frozen foods have never been more important. We’re here to help.”

Bidfood followed suits by adding delivery and click and collect services to consumers so visitors to their website are given the choice of becoming home or business customers.

Caterite Foodservice and Castell Howell Foods have also offered similar services, with a number of Confex member wholesalers taking the bull by the horns in the past few days.

“We’ve got some great news stories, we’ve got Crowndales, DCD, Dunsters and Woods who are big foodservice wholesalers and they’re adapting their businesses so they can offer home delivery,” added Confex Managing Director Tom Gittins.

“We’ve worked really well and has been so well received. We’ve been surprised by the positivity of the general public trying to help all local businesses keep things going. It’s those companies that are going to adapt that will survive.”

Bidfood Castell Howells Foods Caterite Confex Dunsters JJ Foodservice Savona Foodservice Tom Gittins