Kath Hope, from Food Drink Devon, writes about how our local industry is surviving coronavirus lockdown
Summer is definitely on its way. Before coronavirus, this would have been the perfect time to get outdoors and experience the delights of Devon. These warmer months ideal for coastal walks and moorland hikes, surrounded by beautiful scenery and fabulous local produce shooting up around you. The time to get up close and personal with farmers and food producers at fairs, festivals, markets and shows. However, as I write this, none of these things seem possible for the foreseeable future. We’ve all been advised to stay indoors, visitors have been told to stay away, and all food and drink events are cancelled or postponed. Devon appears to be closed for business.
Scratch the surface though and you will find that, despite the unprecedented challenges that our food and drink industry is currently experiencing, many of our talented and passionate producers, retailers and entrepreneurs are still delivering fabulous food to their local communities and beyond. Many have adapted their established delivery systems to meet increased demands from the public in the face of plummeting hospitality trade sales. Others were thrown in at the deep end in terms of finding new ways to reach customers as their cafés, pubs and restaurants were abruptly closed. The past few weeks have seen new partnerships and diversifications that have ensured the Devon community has remained well-fed during this crisis, through new doorstep deliveries and tasty takeaway services.
Devon has also been witness to some great acts of generosity from business owners whose future currently looks pretty uncertain. Hospitality venues have given away their food and drink, chefs have donated meals to the neediest in the community, and those with delivery capabilities have added essential services for the most vulnerable. Other chefs have taken to the internet to bring their cuisine into our homes to inspire the whole family to get cooking; keeping us entertained and, often as part of an essential home-school curriculum, educated too.
Devon’s food and drink industry has pulled out all the stops to enable us to continue to enjoy the county’s fabulous produce and, as consumers, we need to ensure that we give them our support both now and in the post-lockdown future. I am optimistic that many of those who have tried local deliveries during this period will have gained an appreciation of the nutritional and environmental benefits, as well as the value to the local economy of having local produce delivered by local businesses. Similarly, I hope that those who, like me, have greatly missed their local hostelry and yearned for a meal out, will realise that when we are once again allowed to socialise, the hospitality industry will really need our support if we want to continue to enjoy the outstanding choice of quality dining venues that Devon proudly boasts.
We are all looking forward to the time when we are officially open for business again, but our support as consumers – both now and in the future – is critical in ensuring that our award-winning food and drink industry weathers this exceptional storm.
For a full list of Food Drink Devon members who provide delivery and takeaway services visit fooddrinkdevon.co.uk.
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