Foodservice wholesalers given new route to consumers

A new website that aims to provide consumers with alternative methods to get food and drink has launched – and is helping foodservice wholesalers sell directly to the public.

Local Food Drops is gathering information to display the less mainstream ways to do food shopping throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

Created by Foodservice Online and digital agency, iWeb, the site is highlighting how to get larger, wholesale quantities to customers in the hope of alleviating pressures on supermarkets and reducing the need for the public to visit busy stores.

A number of wholesalers are already appearing on the site, including Bidfood, JJ Foodservice and a raft of independents, with more being added all the time.

“We have a lot of links in the sector and knew the likes of Bidfood and Caterite are doing well on click and collect, so we wanted to create a website people can go on, type in an address and it’ll tell them where the nearest grocery wholesaler is,” explained Foodservice Online founder Richard Fletcher.

“Wherever you are in the country, you can type in your location and it’ll show you where your closest collection point is and the products you can buy.

“We’ve adding businesses manually to the website by asking businesses if they’re happy to be added or through contacts we’ve already got. We’re building all this information every time we bring someone else on.”

Local Food Drops is a not-for-profit site and is part of a number of things Foodservice Online is doing to help the sector.

The business has been offering to set up wholesalers’ e-commerce websites for free and has already launched platforms for Turner Price and Trevors, with others in the pipeline too.

Although Fletcher understands the short-term worries many foodservice wholesalers currently have, he believes the move to online and new realisation that they can sell to consumers provides them with a modicum of hope.

“I think what we’ll see after this is more click and collect to the public and using third party logistics to distribute products,” added Fletcher.

“All wholesalers will need to do is have a relationship with a courier service, then they can start shipping products nationally and really opening their boundaries.

“It’s something these guys can really look forward to through this challenging time because they’ve got into this B2C consumer market rather than just doing what we’ve always done in the way we’ve always done it.

“There’s an opportunity in the short term to take the pressure off the supermarkets and give the public another choice and recover some sales, but to do something else to keep morale high internally too. They can look forward to how this joins with their normal business further down the line.”

Bidfood Caterite Foodservice Foodservice Online iWeb Local Food Drops Richard Fletcher Trevors Foodservice Turner & Price wholesaler