Restaurants and retailers saw their world change in a moment from the COVID-19 pandemic.  Across the country these business owners were put in an extremely tenuous position - they both provided a critical source of income for millions of frontline workers while also having to substantially change their business models almost overnight. I have personally spoken to hundreds of these business owners who have described this harrowing ordeal. Many businesses were not able to survive it. For those that did survive, their operations are now almost unrecognizable to what they were before. High-end restaurants who had less than 5% of their orders being take-out had to pivot to offering take-out only and then after a lack of demand, many had to shut down.

How many wholesalers operated before the pandemic. Circa 2018, this photo was taken during a trip to Japanese wholesalers by the co-founders of Freshline.

The food wholesalers that supplied these businesses were also put in a difficult position. Food wholesalers often have to order millions of pounds of produce, meat and seafood in advance of the restaurants and retailers that demand their products. In fact, the seafood industry often buys the rights to buy seafood a year in advance. When the pandemic hit and restaurant demand fell dramatically and wholesalers were often left holding the bag. Tens of millions of pounds of product was either heavily discounted, donated or thrown away.

Millions of pounds of food was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This drastic outcome for thousands of food wholesalers led the industry to a collective realization. Having one source of income (from food service) isn’t diversified enough for the modern wholesaler. Many quickly set up home delivery services in their local cities only to find one major problem: current eCommerce platforms are made to sell boxes of shoes, not steaks and fillets. The world has changed now, eCommerce is quickly becoming the defacto way of placing orders for any good . To be truly future-proof - food suppliers (wholesalers, retailers, processors) need a platform that is built for the way they run their operations. This is why we’ve built Freshline and why we believe the platform we’ve built will stand the test of time in the food industry.