In the last post I mentioned how the closure of restaurants was going to have an impact on our business. We sell a lot of eggs to restaurants and when they were forced to close all of a sudden it means we lose a lot of sales.
And of course, its not like you can turn your hens off. Nor can you stop feeding them. So expenses go on and product piles up. RELIABLE sales outlets are very important. And up until now restaurants that were sound were just that-reliable. One of our best customers has been with us since the very very beginning and she has always been a wonderfully flexible and supportive buyer of our products.
But then she was shut down. (And not because SHE had a problem or because people didn't love her food!).
But here's the little secret... people still eat at just about the same rate now as they did before. Its really just a matter of WHERE they are eating. Now they are all eating at home.
So technically, the food supply, and the food demand should still be in sync. It's just how the supply reaches the demand that has been scrambled.
We are fortunate because we did not put.... wait for it... ALL OUR EGGS IN ONE BASKET!
Sorry. I had to.
Anyways, restaurants are only PART of our sales outlets. The other part is individual people and a few grocery stores. And as it turns out, when people are cooking at home, they need groceries.
So, in the last few weeks, we have seen our grocery store sales skyrocket and we have been contacted by many people who are looking for eggs but can't find them in their grocery stores! Its a bit early to tell, but it seems like everything might level out for us. It MIGHT turn out that all the sales we lost are made up by the increased demand in other outlets.
This is exactly why we insist on diversity, both in our production and our sales outlets. If one things struggles or has problems that are out of your control, something else will likely do well.
So this brings me to agility which is the opposite of fragility. Not only must we keep a diverse farm with many products and many outlets, but we must remain small enough to pivot and switch from one to the other at any time. We must be personally in touch with things. We must rely on humans more then static systems and technology.
So, while the recent drama did and does cause a shock to the system, it is not insurmountable and it may not even turn out to be much of an issue for us.
In fact, it may ultimately drive us into closer and more direct connection with our customers. Which is a good thing. Because people always need to eat. And we always need people.
By the way... is your food supply agile or fragile? Are you in personal contact with the source?
Thank you to everyone who expressed concern and care for us when we mentioned our stress. We felt the love. Things are looking ok for us for now. Hopefully people will still be eager to sign up for the CSA over the next several weeks...