Restaurants battered by lockdown sell perishable stock to home buyers

South Africans are helping food wholesalers and restaurants by buying stock of perishables that would otherwise go to waste.
South Africans are helping food wholesalers and restaurants by buying stock of perishables that would otherwise go to waste.
Image: 123RF/stokkete

Wholesalers and restaurants saddled with perishable food that can't be used because of level 4 lockdown rules are embracing innovative solutions to avoid waste and being left out of pocket.

The sit-down industry has been heavily impacted by the Covid-19 regulations forbidding the sale of alcohol, gatherings and imposing an earlier curfew.

Allen Denby, spokesperson for Johannesburg-based wholesaler Trakstar Food Solutions, said the tightened restrictions had effectively halted business again.

“We have all this stock that can't reach our clients because most of them are either out of business or temporarily had to shut down. We have piles and piles of meat products that will go to waste,” said Denby.

Fortunately, they were thrown a lifeline in the form of an initiative that is connecting suppliers and eateries holding stock that can't be used with household customers, via Restaurant 911 on Facebook. This allows people to buy the stock, instead of it going to waste.

“We generally sell to restaurants and hotels. We have been stuck with the stock and we didn’t know what would happen. I joined the group on Facebook, Restaurant 911, on Tuesday and I have already sold a lot of meat to people who come to us or reach out.

“This is good because then we also sell other products like pre-cooked marinated spare ribs to people,” he said.

Denby said the lockdown had severely affected their business. “We are even doing a payment plan with our clients and our suppliers. We have decided to put all our meat on sale.

We had to lay off about eight people from our production room and last year we let go most of our cleaning staff.
Allen Denby

“We’re struggling, we had to lay off about eight people from our production room and last year we let go of most of our cleaning staff. We try to get through every month. I’m looking at carrying on with the group,” he added.

The sale of alcohol for on-site and off-site consumption is prohibited under the adjusted level 4 regulations.

“Our ministerial advisory committee has advised that the limited restrictions that we previously imposed were not that effective and that a prohibition will ease the pressure placed on hospital services by alcohol emergency-related incidences,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said when announcing the move to level 4.

Darren Timm and Martin van Der Vyver, who started the Facebook group, said they were pleasantly surprised that within hours it had attracted about 15,000 followers.

“It started on Monday. We put this group together for restaurants that are hit hard. We will go to different places and review the takeaways and give them a chance to promote themselves.

“A lot of restaurants bought a lot of stock, but we’re not sure if they’re taking advantage of selling to normal people,' said Timm.

Van der Vyver said he wants the movement to grow into something bigger, a support platform for restaurant owners.

“Our big picture is to keep it going. Even after two weeks, these guys have lost money they will never make up.

“Some of these restaurants are iconic in their areas. This is not just big restaurants and the big guys but for everyone across the country,” he said.

Good Things Guy reported on Tuesday that South Africans were coming up with innovative solutions to help their local restaurants during the tighter lockdown.

These included Takeaways OPEN, promoting restaurants that have switched to take aways, Push the Produce to help restaurants and takeaways sell off excess stock, and Beacon Isle Kwikspar, which opened its shop to restaurants offering pop-up takeaways.

TimesLIVE


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