Flintshire farm shop praised by Welsh Government for setting up vital delivery service during coronavirus pandemic
Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, has thanked independent food and drink sellers who have kept local supply chains flowing and supported NHS staff during the ongoing pandemic.
While many businesses – particularly cafes and restaurants – have had to stop trading during lockdown, many other businesses have responded to increased demand as self-isolating customers have changed their shopping habits.
Long-running food markets and similar businesses have taken to increasing their online sales in order to keep business going – while others have joined together to provide free meals to NHS staff and vulnerable people; including through the Feed the NHS Wales campaign.
In Drury the owner of Lester’s Farm Shop, Lester Thompson had to close his on-site café and shop when lockdown started, shutting one of the main elements of his business.
But to make sure local people – particularly vulnerable or elderly people – still had food delivered, Lester sourced new suppliers and set up a new delivery service to get groceries – including fruit, vegetables, meat and milk – and other essentials out to the community.
He was even able to take on extra staff in order to ensure demand was met.
Lester said: “With the café closed, and that income gone, in order for the business to survive, I had to adapt. Previous to this, it was hard, as fruit and veg has very tight margins and market conditions were very competitive.
“Setting up the deliveries for socially isolated and vulnerable wasn’t to do with the money – it was about helping people, and the local community, and putting Drury on the map.”
Food businesses have also joined together through Feed the NHS Wales; an initiative which brings suppliers, kitchens and other businesses together, allowing individual vendors to provide each part of the meals sent to NHS staff.
Lesley Griffiths, Welsh Government Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, said: “These are very difficult times for all businesses, but I am delighted to see there are those in Wales’ food and drink sector who have been able to continue trading, and have been able to adapt so they can continue to serve customers, and support the NHS.
“I want to thank all of those involved for their hard work – this has been a huge effort for many in terms of logistics, and it is very pleasing to note that as well as furloughed staff returning to volunteer their time where they can, some firms have also been able to take on extra staff.
“There are businesses throughout Wales showing the ingenuity, adaptability and dedication to local communities, for which Wales’ food sector is recognised.
“We know this isn’t an option for many businesses, but it is good to see that in many cases, there are those who haven’t had to call a complete stop to their business, and Welsh producers, restaurants and sellers can continue to serve their communities during these trying times.”
The Minister added: “I would also ask members of the public to continue to support their local food producers, suppliers and sellers where they can – many will continue to provide services such as produce boxes or lunches through deliveries, and will welcome the support of their communities during this time.”
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