For the first in our new series of tenant stories we hear from Mark Stuart, Director of Wellfresh Produce, a tenant at Minerva Mill since 2018.
Wellfresh is an importer and distributor of fresh Fruit and Vegetables and supply the foodservice, wholesale, retail packing and processing sectors – In addition to UK farmers and producers we also import fresh produce from across the globe by sea, road and airfreight in order to supply our customers with high quality fresh produce 12 months of the year moving with the global supply seasons as they happen.
Our Covid 19 story –
A large portion of our business is within the foodservice and catering sector so as lockdown was enforced and with the closure of the hospitality sector our customers found themselves with no Pubs, Restaurants and Hotels to sell to, this was a very worrying time for the whole of the industry and an uncertain time for us as a very young business.
As a result of the closures, a lot of catering business’s had to act quickly and heavily diversify their operations, with the logistics already in place a large portion of them turned to selling direct to the public and offering home box schemes and deliveries – this proved to be the right move as the supermarkets struggled to keep up with public demand which at times was over 200% higher we started to see demand for fresh produce increase in a very short space of time as panic buying set in.
With demand high the main issue for ourselves was finding enough product in the UK and across the globe to fulfil the influx in demand with the majority of planes grounded and no flights, extra checks and paperwork for road freight and labour shortages across the world sourcing product became the main issue and at times a real struggle to procure what we needed but with a good network of growers and suppliers we have managed to keep supply somewhat consistent.
This last month has now levelled off as supermarkets get back on top of supply and panic buying subsided so we are now looking forward to slowly returning to some kind of normality with the announcement of the hospitality industry reopening on 4th of July we are excited to be getting back to where we were before the outbreak and welcoming some of our customers back that have really suffered throughout this very worrying time.
Also looking forward to having some people back in the building as has been very quiet indeed 😊
Mark Stuart – Director
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