Specialty Food Magazine

Summer 2020

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

Issue link: https://www.e-digitaleditions.com/i/1256204

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Page 40 of 91

that specializes in flash-frozen seafood bowls. "This allows for quick replies to new consumers who are trying our brand at home during meals that would normally occur at the office or in a restaurant." The brand's e-commerce sales have surged. "Our Instacart business grew by four times starting in the second week of March," he says. As a result, "we have shifted more of our resources towards digital and e-commerce, to improve our target acquisition strategy and reach more online shoppers." Restaurant Industry Suffers Massive Impact The foodservice industry has been overwhelmingly debilitated by COVID-19 as thousands of restaurants have shut their doors—possibly forever—while many attempt to salvage some ongoing revenues by transitioning their business models to takeout and delivery. The economic impact of the crisis on the restaurant industry is likely to be brutally painful, says Aaron Allen of Aaron Allen & Associates, a global foodservice consulting firm. "Unfortunately for the short term, this is going to be more catastrophic than even some are contemplating," he says. "This is the Great Depression and the Spanish Flu happening at the same time." A particularly concerning aspect of the pandemic is that in other recent economic crises, such as after 9/11, consumers were encouraged to go out to eat and to be around other people, while the current message is exactly the opposite. "It has everyone looking for answers and trying to make the best guess of how deep it will go and how long it will last," he says. On April 9, the National Restaurant Association wrote a letter to Congress pleading for more assistance, citing the loss of three million jobs and $25 billion in revenue in the industry in just the first five weeks of the crisis, with projections calling for a total of seven million jobs to be lost. Allen predicts that tens of thousands of restaurants may never reopen, and millions of workers may need to find jobs in other industries. The psychological impact of the pandemic on both consumers and restaurant operators could lead to a lasting downturn for the industry, he says. "It's just really unrealistic that … even if a cure were found in June, that by the month of July, we're just all roaring out to restaurants," he says. Even when able to reopen, foodservice operators face a different physical landscape, with Kurtz. The smaller size is set to become available in stores that already sell the standard version, in late spring. "We hope the lower price point is a good way [shoppers] can get familiar with our brand," Kurtz says. Connect on Social Media The outbreak led to a more captive social media audience which offers an ideal way to introduce less familiar ingredients, explain where ingredients are sourced, and how a brand is making their product safe, according to Bartelme. "Specialty foods have an advantage if they connect directly with consumers on Instagram or another social media, explaining the story behind their brand, how to use or cook with a product, why they should seek it out," she says. "Whether you're a big established brand or a startup, you need to explain why your brand is better. People are thinking, 'I've been eating canned green beans, and they're not so bad. Why should I buy the fancier haricots verts?' Connecting with shoppers is important." Kurtz does Instagram Live events to connect in real time with consumers and answer user questions about Mike's Hot Honey. Agrawal is also upping the digital content at Brooklyn Delhi. "We have stepped up education on how to make different recipes using our products," she says. "I've been doing some Instagram Live cooking classes and posting more recipe content on our site." Another advantage of an active social presence is the ability to reach and address users in real time. "I see all the comments from our social and remain in close contact with our team," says Mark Ozimek, marketing lead at Scott & Jon's, a brand 30 SPECIALTY FOOD SPECIALTYFOOD.COM BUSINESS CONTINUITY

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