New Covent Garden wholesaler Vernon Mascarenhas has said he expects home delivery services from foodservice suppliers to get “a lot more imaginative” as the UK braces itself for a second national lockdown.
"This lockdown will be completely different to last time,” he said. “Where catering suppliers’ home deliveries were a success during the first lockdown, when supermarkets failed to maintain stock levels in the face of panic buying, this is now the reverse.
“The supermarket supply chain is really strong and so we're likely to see foodservice companies’ home delivery services get a lot more imaginative in this second lockdown.”
At Nature’s Choice, where Mascarenhas is commercial director, this will involve allowing customers to customise the ingredients of their fruit and veg boxes more, for example by adding spouts on the stalk, dates or celeriac – items that aren’t included in its set offerings.
He added: “Takeaways and click and collect will become the norm as high street chains and restaurants learnt from the experience of the first lockdown in March. This will especially be the case at local neighbourhood restaurants.
“They're no longer scared to adapt to these new ways of working as they know they can do it well… but almost all fine dining establishments will be forced to close in their entirety. The same delivery options aren't open to them since so much of the experience is impossible to replicate on a takeaway basis.”
Mascarenhas added that we're also likely to see local neighbourhood restaurants “shift into the deli model” and “become a hub for local communities”.
“They will become places where those working from home can still enjoy the simple pleasures of a morning coffee, or a takeaway lunch and dinner with a restaurant quality feel,” he said.
“In London there is very much a ‘support your local’ feel out there because people are thinking: if we don’t support them, we’ll lose them.”
Mascarenhas is an experienced wholesaler at Nature’s Choice, which supplies top London restaurants including the Michelin Starred Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester and Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in Chelsea.
Nature’s Choice launched a fruit and veg delivery box service for the first time in March 2020 when the first national lockdown began. The wholesaler is based at New Covent Garden Market in Vauxhall, London.