HelloFresh box opening

Covid has provided opportunities as well as challenges for fresh produce suppliers, with online retail and home delivery companies seeing a big uptick in sales during the past year.

In a session entitled New Routes to Market at last week’s Fruitnet World of Fresh Ideas event, Tilman Eichstaedt of HelloFresh said he believed the pandemic would have a lasting influence on the way we live and work.

Flexible working and the rise in home eating have created more room in the market for home delivery companies. Eichstaedt explained how HelloFresh had had to significantly expand its supplier network in the last year to deal with the surge in Covid demand.

He said the company had turned to latent capacity in foodservice channel during lockdown to allow it to quickly and successfully scale up its supply chain to meet extra demand.

The focus going forward would be on making the supply chain as lean as possible from farm to fork, Eichstaedt noted.

“We try to be as regional and local as possible in our procurement – the fresher the produce is and the faster we can get it to our customers the better it tastes,” he said.

“We’re always looking for innovative solutions to make our supply chain as efficient as possible. Our aim is to find partners to grow produce to our specifications and deliver it when we need it.”

Eichstaedt said that the drive towards greater sustainability also offered a lot of great opportunities to suppliers to differentiate their offer.

“We need to be able to convince the customer that this is a superior product, whether it’s through taste, or because it requires less water to grow, or for any other reason,” he said.

The session also heard from Dutch duo Ron Simpson and Julien Zaal, who are set to open several new branches of their avocado-themed restaurant, The Avocado Show in the coming months.

The mono-product restaurant continues its European expansion in spite of Covid-19 challenges, having recently opened its latest branch in Madrid.

“It’s been quite an adventure to open up in these challenging times in different cultures and countries, and we have been through a lot together in the past 10 months to get to where we are today: finally open,” said Zaal.