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How the food industry is responding to the COVID-19 crisis: 30+ ideas from around the world

Discover how food businesses around the world are dealing with the COVID-19 crisis. Find ideas and inspiration for your own business.

I have spent the past couple of days trying to figure out the next steps for the #foodonourtables initiative. With so much uncertainty, it’s important to stay alert and resilient. I have gathered over 30 ideas that illustrate how the food industry is responding to the coronavirus crisis. I am hoping that this list will act as inspiration for your own business, as well as provide you with resources you can make use of during this period. From vouchers, to online courses and efforts to mobilise local governments, discover what food businesses around the world have started doing during this period.

Vouchers, and more than that

1. Vorfreude.kaufen, Way To Passion, Ialoc.ro and others started a voucher system to make it easier for the industry to sort out logistics.

2. Instead of selling vouchers, Noble Savage restaurant in Vienna has partnered up with their beef supplier, X.O. Beef. Together, they are selling tickets to a ‘Salvation Brunch’, which will happen every Saturday, for five weeks in a row, when the crisis is over. Book your ticket here.

3. Instead of selling vouchers for post-corona fixed-price consumption, Bucharest cocktail bar Fix MAD implemented a 15% discount that gives buyers a year-long 15% discount, starting as soon as the crisis is over.

4. Noma’s voucher system gives guests priority to secure their future bookings. They also come with additional benefits: signed menu, a limited edition printed menu, cookbooks, ferments from their lab, and even a session with one of their fermentation or test kitchen staff.

5. David Chang’s Momofuku started an Employee Relief Fund. They state that 100% of the proceeds will help the team navigate the COVID-19 crisis.

Social media to the rescue

6. Chefs and restaurants around the world have started live online classes on Instagram. Follow Massimo Bottura (Osteria Gucci and Osteria Francescana), Paul Ivic (Tian), Jason Atherton (Pollen Street Social), Karma Food Vienna and others as they teach those staying at home how to cook delicious, simple food.

7. Chefs like Jeremy Chan (Ikoyi London) and restaurants like Labstelle are sharing recipes in their Instagram feed.

8. Rotterdam-based brewery and bistro, Kaapse Maria, are promoting their suppliers to encourage shoppers to buy local.

9. High-follower profiles like Soigne Food are offering to support restaurants that are still working by promoting them on their channels.

10. Habibi&Hawara in Vienna, among others, have started sharing the kind messages that their customers are sending.

Businesses, working together during the COVID-19 crisis

11. Impact Hub Vienna are bringing communities together and providing them with support through video conferences, digital learning platforms, tools and other resources.

12. Restaurants and suppliers have started working more closely together. Three Rotterdam based businesses (a bakery – Das Brot NL, a plant based eatery – Jack Bean Food and a vegetable supplier – Landzicht Biologisch) teamed up to create the ‘local goodness’ box). The boxes contain fresh brad, plant based burger patties or bean chilli, as well as fresh vegetables.

13. Greg Baxtrom and Max Katzenberg (Olmsted, NY) started the New York Hospitality Coalition. They are running their own campaign, around the hashtag #toosmalltofail. One of their goals is to unify New York restaurants for relief. Among others, they are requesting that the sales tax for the hospitality businesses that have been interrupted by COVID-19 be suspended.

14. Last week, James Beard Foundation organised a free webinar to discuss how COVID-19 is impacting the hospitality industry.

15. Culinaria Mexico encourage large food companies to support local restaurants with free or discounted supplies.

16. Restaurant guides Zagat and The Infatuation built a guide to support local hospitality businesses. They partnered up with World Central Kitchen, started by chef Jose Andres in 2010 after the Haiti earthquake. The organisation’s goal is to support local communities with food in the wake of natural disasters.

17. In the US, restaurants and organisations are asking for government support. Food Policy Action build a guide on how the congress can help local restaurants, and the campaign, #SaveRestaurants is backed by James Beard Foundation.

18. Gourmet magazine Toothache has just announced that all profits will go to the James Beard Foundation Food and Beverage Industry Relief Fund. They are encouraging people to either donate to their favourite restaurants, or buy the magazine, to have something to read while in self-isolation.

Food for the greater good

19. Restaurants like Steirereck, Hilderbrandt and Alma Gastrotheque in Vienna, Cordo in Berlin, and Kane in Bucharest, have started a community kitchen, helping doctors, nurses, and other heroes, during these times. This either involves free meals or delivery services.

20. Every day, one of Taubenkobel Austria‘s team members will be cooking alone to ensure that 120 meals are prepared and delivered to Caritas.

21. A restaurant in Melbourne offers discounts to those who have lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

22. Chef Jason White (@teamsilent) offered to help chefs reduce their food waste by providing free of charge advice on fermentation.

23. A craft miso brewery in Rotterdam offers free miso for those who need it, since it is healthy and good for immunity.

24. Million Gallons is an organisation that brings restaurants together and make soup (in the NYC, Westchester region), in order to help those in need. You can register your restaurant or donate here.

25. Chefs and food bloggers have started supporting people with ideas on what to cook based on the ingredients in their fridge.

26. ChefSteps have made all their pasta recipes available for free.

Food deliveries, done smart

27. Restaurants like Balls Bucharest and Anika have started canning food and selling it ready to be used, from pasta sauce, to rillettes and other spreads.

28. Ottolenghi announced that some of their waiters agreed to retrain as couriers, in order to deliver the food. In many cities, delivery services are overwhelmed.

29. In Bucharest, an event organising company launched a monthly subscription based service, Good-Food. Once you sign up, you will receive freshly cooked food, daily. Pujol restaurant, in Mexico, is another business that has set up a subscription model with deliveries of basic products, weekly.

30. Restaurant Noua in Bucharest has switched from fine dining to daily menus with nutritious, comforting food.

31. JustEat has cut its commission for 30 days. This aims to put less financial pressure on restaurants and support their cash-flow.

Resources, all in the same place

32. Writer Nunu Kaller has built the largest collection of local businesses that are still doing delivery in Austria. The list is updated every couple of hours and has been growing substantially over the past week. Access it here.

33. Raw Wine have created a global natural wine map to support businesses that are still oprational at the moment. Check out their #togethernaturally campaign and submit your business.

34. With the help of my employer and a couple of friends, I launched Food on our Tables, aiming to support the hospitality industry as we deal with the COVID-19 crisis. We have built a list of food businesses operating during these times in Bucharest, Romania. You can access it here. If you wish to take this to your own city, I am happy to provide support at every step to get it to work as smoothly as it did in Bucharest.

Let’s help each other

If you have come across other creative initiatives that have inspired you, please share them in a comment or get in touch. My goal is to make all ideas available for those whose businesses are currently affected by the COVID-19 crisis, and I will keep updating the blog with anything new that I will come across.

Also reach out if you wish to build a database of food businesses that are still running, or have any other idea on how we can help each.

If you are a food business and need support or ideas, send me an email.

We’re always going to be stronger together.

Stay safe and stay home,

Ioana

Let’s spread the love and inspire others

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