Business Strategy

COVID 19: State of Business for Food and Drink

May 18, 2020

Following the unprecedented COVID-19 outbreak, what are the best practices of surviving through this pandemic?

Dsgn & Co. conducted a survey on the ‘State of Business’ to find out more about the current affairs of food and drink businesses are currently facing during this period.

Food and drink business owners have had to cease or reduce business operations in conjunction with the new legislation. This has led to social distancing measures where companies have switched to working from home. As noted by Deloitte, ‘[..] at-home consumption has increased, but out-of-home consumption – which historically generates the highest margin – has come to nearly a standstill.’

Business opportunities have sunk as a result with over 50% of owners reporting that new business with buyers has affected them massively due to COVID-19. In the report below, you will find further insight as to the challenge many food and drink businesses are facing.

Covid-19 State of Business Survey

Food and drink businesses in London make up the total amount of responses received in the survey, however, businesses outside of the capital have faced similar challenges. Dsgn & Co. have found that the impact of COVID-19 has had a similar effect on relatively new businesses (operating under a year up to 4 years) and well-established brands.

In-store purchases generally account for the majority of sales, but the shift to e-commerce has proved to be vital especially in light of the crisis. Over 80% of food and drink owners have shifted their businesses to operate online, whilst utilising their online platforms to sell their products and finding new innovative ways to interact with their customers.

The agency has noted that businesses consider online platforms as a necessary accompaniment to their daily operations. A small minority, however, value direct-to-consumer approaches via in-store sales and direct delivery these businesses are operating at a much minimal scale, but it is guaranteed that a shift towards selling online is imminent - these businesses are operating at a much minimal scale.

COVID-19 has brought about many challenges for several foods and drink brands who are currently trying to adapt to the current climate. The areas of impact vary between 25-40% of businesses have been affected by manufacturing and supply operations, deliveries and the team. On the other hand, a much greater number of businesses claim that the biggest challenge of them all is finding new business opportunities.

Grocery buyer explained:

“Buyers who have not been furloughed are looking for products but not for immediate purchase. Those who still have the ability to trade are maximising sales on current ranges. Christmas is the next window of opportunity.”

For those struggling with new business at the moment do not lose hope as you can still get in contact with buyers. As it currently stands, there is no indication as to when the lockdown will end but hopefully, we will have a clearer understanding beginning of June. Nevertheless, it is important for businesses to plan ahead and review their current strategies to ensure that they’re better prepared for the future.

How can your business adapt?

Temporary Packaging

While COVID-19 is unlikely to put a halt to this in the short run, there may be some impact on the speed of change in both the short and long term in packaging solutions. Creating temporary packaging for your products, in order to aid and support charities/causes towards COVID-19, would help better your community, and the public will notice if your company is making a real effort to improve its surroundings.


How are you keeping retention between your business and your consumers? Producing home DIY kits we will help sustain and/or increase sales for your business, this strategy is best aimed at street food brands who have taken a big hit on customer footfall. How can your customer still experience what your brand has to offer? Can your product still be produced at home with a little help in kit work supplied by your business? Customer retention is key during this pandemic, allowing your customers to go without may cause a disconnection between your product/service and consumers.  

Social Media

Collaborating with other brands increases visibility for your brand online. Whilst there is an increase in online sales, it’s almost crucial to be visible and expand your audience on social media, this allows room for your brand to tap into new social media audiences.

Raymond Taiwo

Account Manager