Our Daily Bread: Localism and Supply Chain Resilience in times of uncertainty.
We all need our daily bread. And pasta. And toilet roll. Recent and current scenes of empty supermarket shelves and shoppers fighting over basic food stuffs are unnerving to say the least.
With many people self-isolating for both their own and others safety, challenges to access food supplies are becoming obvious. After somewhat sanctimoniously informing my mum that she must start online shopping, she rang to point out that not only are most of the major food retailer websites down due to over demand (an Ocado delivery slot is rarer than the defunct Dodo), and asking an old person to walk round a supermarket at 7am was a culture shock too far.
But does this say more about our shopping behaviours than our food security? The lady on the checkout at Tesco last week told me that they’re ordering in more food than they ever have done, but at the same time placing restrictions on the number of items each shopper can buy.
Over the past 50 or so years we’ve become institutionalized toward supermarket shopping. It’s so easy. I can park my car (with a small child I even get a preferential parking space!), I have everything under one roof and - bonus - I get a loyalty card! What’s not to love? But in a time of pandemic, it’s also a place where many bodies congregating really isn’t so desirable.
So how can Localism address this? Last week I wrote about innovation in response to crisis, a great example being that many local food producers, restaurants and cafes have quickly adapted, offering take away and delivery services. The ability of small businesses to quickly alter their operating models provides a level of resilience within the local supply chain that larger food retailers can only dream about.
Is this the start of a new era? So perhaps shopping with a number of smaller businesses isn’t quite as handy, but we’ll probably get used to it. And once we are, isn’t it a great opportunity to keep on doing so? Directly supporting local businesses, employing local people using local products, keeping money flowing round the places that we care about?
In the past few days, the wonderful @DanKnowles has focused on pulling together a list of current delivery services of Hot and Cold food in the LA1-LA6 area. This kind of innovation supports the creativity of our local businesses and helps those in most need in our communities. Shared Value in action, it’s great to see.