Last Monday some of the lock down restrictions were eased in Ireland and some parts of the catering industry was able to open up again, but this was limited to restaurants and pubs which served food. According to Justin Leonard who’s company Jackie Leonard & Sons has supplied the Irish fresh produce market for 127 years, the situation is very up and down.
“It will take a long time to get back to normality,” said Justin. “The food service trade is still very limited, more restaurants are opening up each week and the hotels are open but we still have no tourist trade. I don’t know how viable some of the restaurants and pubs will be as they still have to adhere to the one meter social distancing rule, they did manage to get it brought down from two meters which will help a bit. Even with the one-meter rule some are only operating at 70% capacity.”
The supply chain has remained strong throughout, with a good supply available from the UK. “Supply is not the problem, it’s the demand which is lacking. It is very difficult to forecast what we will need, at the moment we are just buying what we need to fill our orders. The lack of demand is reflected in the prices which are very low.”
When Ireland went into lock down most of Justin’s business disappeared overnight and he took to delivering veg boxes to serve his customers, the demand was huge. “This has now fallen a bit since people are back to shopping at the supermarkets, but we still have customers and I believe some will come back when they realise how much easier it is to have your fruit and veg delivered to the door.
"This is a niche market that I want to build for the future and our website boxkick.ie , solely for home and office delivery customers went live this morning. We decided to develop this offering further and keep it separate from our food service business. Its called “BOXKICK“. The theme being a box of fresh fruits & vegetables to kick start your day. As I’m an avid rugby supporter, I was playing on the “box kick” tactic used in rugby, for attacking the opposition in tight situations.
I don’t think lockdown came any tighter, for businesses having to think on their feet."