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Restaurants sell in-demand groceries

In addition to selling takeout, restaurants are selling in-demand groceries such as eggs, flour, yeast and fresh produce to local patrons.

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Restaurants are adding grocery orders to their online meal order service. Some businesses are selling items a la carte, while others are creating pre-packed grocery boxes with essential items. This solves several problems at once:

  • Allows restaurants to stay open, add to sales (in addition to takeout meals)
  • Sustains demand for wholesale food suppliers (preventing upstream collapse)
  • Gives customers an opportunity to safely grocery shop, without exposing themselves to more crowded, high-risk supermarkets
  • Builds customer loyalty with restaurants that will extend beyond the pandemic
  • Increases supply of high-demand goods that are sold out in grocery stores (e.g. eggs, flour, yeast and fresh produce)

What is the need are you focusing on?

- Sustainability of the restaurant industry and upstream food wholesalers during a pandemic

- Access to groceries for high-risk individuals

Which type of submission are you sharing?

  • Sharing a pivot idea your organization is considering or could consider

Describe the business pivot or adaptation in 3-4 sentences.

While grocery stores and their supply chains are strained beyond capacity and experiencing whiplash effect from spikes in demand for specific goods, restaurants can play a unique role in connecting local communities to food supplies through their wholesalers. Shelter-in-place orders aimed at quelling the spread of COVID-19 force restaurants to rethink their business models. Many restaurants pivoted to take-out and delivery only models, while others capitalized on the opportunity to expand their offerings by providing groceries to local customers. This new model makes restaurants and their upstream food wholesalers less vulnerable to fluctuations in demand for in-person dining, while providing low-risk access to groceries for at-risk individuals who may not feel comfortable visiting a grocery store at this time. In the long-term, restaurants doubling as corner stores could increase access to fresh food in food deserts and areas long overlooked by commercial grocery chains.

Do you plan to implement this solution?

  • No

Describe the impact that this solution will create in the world.

If restaurants more commonly add grocery boxes to their online menus, the following impact may occur: - Increased local access to fresh food for at-risk individuals who fear going to the grocery store - Increased local access to fresh food for individuals with unreliable transportation - Diversify offerings for restaurants and restaurant wholesalers, making them less vulnerable to fluctuating demand for in-person dining - Add reliable revenue streams to local restaurants

What is your profession?

Graduate student

Where are you located (country)?


Where are you located (region)?

  • North America

What industry is your business/company in?

  • Academia/Research

What kind of stakeholders and partnerships are needed to pursue this solution?

  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- Private Sector
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- Grassroots/Community Groups

Do you need help building partnerships and finding partners?

  • No

What do you think are the main barriers to implementing this solution?

- Restaurants would need to develop pricing models for grocery items sold in bulk such that they don't cannibalize sales of their prepared goods. - Several pilots would need to take place to measure how much this model adds foot traffic, customer loyalty and ancillary sales of prepared foods, and how those variables impact profitability. - Grocery stores may fight back and try to capture exclusive agreements with food wholesalers, or lobby for legislation to require additional licensure to operate a grocery store

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