COVID-19, One Year Later: Distributor-Turned Retailer During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Associate editor Brielle Jaekel accounts what it was like to order from a produce distributor that turned direct-to-consumer amidst the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

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Food Logistics Magazine

The novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has upended most individuals’ daily lives, eliminating their jobs, the ability to meet up with friends and completely changing the way they shop. I am one of the lucky few that can do my job from home, and in fact, had already been a remote employee.

Since I had been home for more than a month straight, following travel from MODEX 2020, I wanted to keep my streak going to focus on keeping my family safe without having that little voice in the back of my head wondering if I had contracted the virus.

So I worked every corner of the internet trying to find someway to get home delivery for grocery. But, no matter how many times I refreshed, the phrase “no delivery or pickup times available” flashed across my screen. It’s obvious that everyone is looking for their goods without risking going out and contracting the virus.

I have never been so thankful for delivery drivers, store associates and supply chain workers in my entire life. My appreciation for these men and women now has no bounds.

Eventually, I had given up and decided to take my chances and just go to the store, despite every grocery store in my area reporting that unfortunately, employees were testing positive.

That day I was walking my dogs and noticed a produce wholesale truck drive through my community, where there are no retail or restaurant locations. Only homes. So, I followed the truck and like I suspected, he was delivering goods to someone’s house.

We looked up the company and found out that, like many others, it pivoted operations to provide fresh produce through home delivery to consumers instead of focusing only on businesses.

The idea is mutually beneficial, helping solve a drastic need that has popped up in the economy and keeping their business afloat now that many restaurants are closed or limiting services. The company wraps everything in safe materials to help reduce chances of the spread and drivers take precautions to ensure minimal interaction and distancing themselves, while also maintaining a personal connection.

After a few days, the company had a new consumer-focused portal up and running on its website where I placed my order. Two days later, I received my shipment, and boy did I.

When ordering, it was clear that some items were only available in bulk. But, I wasn’t exactly sure how much. Most food came in reasonable amounts that would be what I normally purchase from the grocery store. I did however receive an entire crate of corn and enough peppers to share the wealth.

We were able to drop some off at family member’s houses that are more at risk and froze what we were able to. I was really trying to eliminate any food waste and we did well in that aspect! We only lost one onion and a few strawberries and have fresh food for almost every meal. I’ve even gotten to be really creative with my corn recipes, including it in everything from chili to pasta.

What also impressed me was that this was the very first week this company had decided to go consumer-based, and it was great experience. Obviously, there were some bumps in the road like only able to order some items in bulk, but none of these issues were unreasonable considering the circumstances. Since then, the website has been updated and customers have a more clear idea of sizes and the products they can order in addition to a wider range of sizing options.

The grocery industry will continue to stretch during the pandemic and consumers' shopping habits will also continue to change. Now that businesses are switching to direct-to-consumer operations, maybe it will be easier to obtain goods in a safe manner. However, there is no way to tell when the virus will subside or how the food industry will be moving forward. Everyone here at Food Logistics as well as my family are so thankful for every worker in food who is putting his or her health at risk to continue to keep the food supply chain moving.