As Thailand is entering a nationwide lockdown with a curfew in place, the option of going outside our own home is more and more limited. Food and household products have become the main fuel during self-isolation. This results in a surge in online food delivery and home cooking as restaurants are no longer allowed for dinning-in and people continue to practice social distancing.
In order to survive, food business must adapt to this unforeseen disruption. Especially, local food business and SMEs that may not have the safety net provided by being part of a multinational franchise, Thai business owners must seek solutions to sustain their business amid the crisis which ranges from retaining their employees, registering on online delivery platforms to expand their channels, to applying stringent food safety standard. The crisis serves as an opportunity for businesses to evolve and adapt for the better.
Norwegian Seafood Council (NSC), with their world-class standard in aquaculture, has teamed up with Thammachart Seafood, Thailand’s leading retailer, with more than 200 fresh fish counters nationwide to share their constructive guidelines on how food business can thrive during this Coronavirus outbreak.
- Ensuring food safety and cleanliness
The number one concern among consumers right now is food safety. Consumers need to trust that the producer, the restaurant, and the delivery service are taking hygiene seriously to avoid any contamination of the virus. Authorities play a crucial role in securing the public’s confidence in the matter.
In a statement released on 14 March, The Norwegian Food Safety Authority confirmed that the Coronavirus does not affect seafood safety. Fish and seafood products from Norway are not a carrier of the virus and poses no risk to consumers. Asbjørn Warvik Rørtveit, Southeast Asia Regional Director, Norwegian Seafood Council (NSC), has shared about the update regarding seafood production in Norway, “Seafood export is Norway’s key business. Our responsibility is to provide safe and top-quality food to the world. We are continuously sustaining our seafood production under stringent hygiene and contamination measures as always to ensure that food safety of Norwegian salmon is not at risk and Norwegian food safety standard are upheld at the highest level”.
Simultaneously, Thammachart Seafood has taken the action by implementing strict control measures for both operational and personal hygiene. Thonglor Warehouse (DC2) has been disinfected daily and fumigated once a month to gaurantee the stringent food safety standard.
- Knowing your product and service’s value and adapting to shifting demand
As the consumer trend is shifting to at-home consumption, food business needs to consider their strengths and weaknesses in competing against competitors and find the sweet spot that the brand can deliver. Many markets are reporting increased demand for processed and prepacked seafood, as well as products with longer sell-by dates.
The Norwegian seafood industry is turning its production to meet these needs. Efforts are being made to maintain all shipments and cargo activities to ensure a steady supply of Norwegian seafood. As for Thammachart Seafood, the shift from its hero product of fresh Norwegian Salmon has paved ways for many creative cooking ideas for consumers. High-quality protein such as fish is good for boosting the immune system. Urban consumers also prefer easy-to-cook food and Norwegian Salmon is the perfect ingredient.
- Promoting employees’ welfare
Business cannot survive without its people. The Coronavirus crisis has resulted in many people losing their job, causing significant concerns among the public. Consumers start to recognise the value of frontline workers who become the lifeline of their daily life – cooks, cleaners, supermarket staff, and delivery bikers. These workers are the ones keeping the functions running while others are now working from home.
It is the business owners’ responsibility to provide a safe and clean environment for the team to work during the crisis as it will help gain credibility and trust among the consumers. Yeeran G. Davies, Chief Marketing Officer, Thammachart Seafood Retail, has shared the company’s policy in maintaining the well-being of their valuable staff, “We take the welfare of our staffs and our customers very seriously. Hygiene and safety processes are implemented with strict control on both operation and personal levels. Our valuable staffs are our priority; therefore, providing a safe working environment for our staffs is essential, the cleanliness and safety of the production area are key. Our facility also has “no visitors allowed” policy at the moment to eliminate the possibilities of contamination as much as we can to ensure that our staffs are safe and healthy so our customers will only receive safe, clean, fresh and delicious food from us.”
- Maintaining rapid communications and positive messaging
The situation may appear doom and gloom with no end in sight. With people in self-isolation, uncertainties are high. What consumers need is rapid communications and constant updates from the brand to build trust.
The Norwegian Seafood Council is keeping a close dialogue with the industry. The Institute of Marine Research, the biggest of its kind in Europe, has also taken their stance to ensure that critical functions remain operative such as data for advice on quotas and stock since the results from expeditions and assessments are of great importance for fisheries and cooperation with other nations. This will enable producers to provide consumers with any relevant information if needed.
For Thammachart Seafood, once their production standard is in place, the tone of voice for communications aims for positivity to keep up the spirit. The brand has been communicating on their social media channels using light-hearted and heart-warming contents; while shifting customer experience from local retail store to online cooking channel. The most important matter for this time is to keep the customer engaged, as well as keep brand visibility continuously increased. The brand is doing Facebook live on their online channel showing how fresh salmon and seafood are prepared and cooked following home-cooking trends to better engage with customers while they are at home.
It is a critical time for the food business to be agile and evolve from the crisis. If business owners are taking actions and responsible, consumers are willing to support the business for it to thrive, not just survive.
Discover the tips from Thammachart Seafood for promoting employees’ welfare and maintaining rapid communications and positive messaging at https://bit.ly/3aaE0uq