Future of Artisan Foods in a Post-Corona environment?

Everything we thought we knew about our world has, of course, changed completely in the last 6 months. The day of ‘Lockdown’ for my own family came early on 24th February when my long awaited trip to Italy had to be cancelled because 3 people had died in Italy. At the time I was cross that 3 deaths in a country of 60 mill people could stop a small group of Artisan food producers from Northern Ireland visiting some small Artisan food producers in rural Northern Italy. But stop us it did! Meanwhile, at home, my 13 year old daughter was suddenly ill and needed looked after at home. So I was going nowhere, no cooking commercially, for weeks anyway. Little did I think then that it might be 174 days before my children would be back at school or I would have any time alone to concentrate on my own food business again.
I am interested to find out how much the Artisan food industry will have changed during down my time away from it. I am assuming that the tourism-side to the work will have died a sudden death, but perhaps it has potential for the green shoots of growth, that the Government so desperately want to see in any industry, with the growth of ‘Staycation’ tourism. I am assuming the days of the bus loads of foreign tourists are behind us, definitely for many years to come, but maybe UK and Irish locals will pick up those reins and make the most of the beautiful locations, the shops at these locations, and the tours and trips on offer where Artisan foods have a role to play.
I was fascinated to learn that my local farm shop here in rural Dromore, Co Down (where I moved house to during lockdown) is now doing double the business on a Saturday that they were doing a year ago! This has lead to the owner having a growing confidence in supplying foods made locally by Artisan food producers. If the customers want them and keep coming back for more he is going to keep getting more and more local food in. The turning away from the major supermarkets for the weekly food shop as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions was a very unexpected result for the food retailers but I can see now how this will give a massive boost to the local Artisan Food industry and it has the potential to have a lasting improved impact on the food industry if the Artisan suppliers can meet demand over this winter when local lockdowns are very likely to take place again and customers will likely feel safer in smaller shops than with many customers in the major supermarkets.
I am very hopeful that as an industry, albeit a small industry but an important one, we can all pull together and show that we are made of strong stuff and get going with feeding our people great local foods.

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