The global pandemic of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) has changed many facets of living, especially in the category of food. With restaurants shut down and stay-at-home orders in place, there is a substantially rising demand for groceries. The struggle to acquire groceries not only affects citizens nationwide, but also those customers who are immunocompromised, elderly, sick, or self-isolating due to contact with an ill person.
To aid in the growing demand, grocery stores have engaged in delivery services and existing third-party delivery services have seen popularity as well. According to data provided by Rakuten Intelligence, grocery orders have risen to 150% between March 12th and March 15th compared to the same period in 2019. These grocery delivery platforms, however, were not designed to handle the pressures and demands that exist during a pandemic. Rather they function best at handling smaller volume of orders. Using these services, many customers across the US have reported various issues with getting their groceries delivered to their homes. Finding a delivery slot on these services can seem impossible at times with competing shoppers, and when orders are placed there have been many reports of groceries arriving incomplete, canceled or never arriving at the scheduled time.
Grocery stores and delivery services are trying to expand their employee base during this time to keep up with high demands. However, it appears that workers are unwilling to take on more shifts and people are more willing to stay unemployed due to the health risks. Some companies such as Instacart, Shipt, and Whole Foods, have even experienced strikes and protests from workers that are demanding better sick leave, higher pay, and access to personal protective equipment.
Aside from grocery stores, restaurants are trying to step in to help by turning their spaces into makeshift grocery stores selling meal kits or necessary pantry items. Restaurant wholesale sellers are beginning to sell to the public and local supermarkets have started offering same-day delivery. Mutual aid organizations are also being set up in certain communities aimed at helping those who cannot leave their homes and those who are jobless as a result of the pandemic.
Farm-based suppliers, like ourselves at Mac Edwards Produce, are also engaging in contactless curbside pickup and at-home delivery services to aid communities in fulfilling their grocery needs. We are offering to bring fresh vegetables, fruits, dairy and more to customers’ doorstep with safe and quality care delivery.