Duck legs confit. Wagyu burgers. Andouille sausage. These items from meat supplier D’Artagnan typically would be headed to restaurants, but due to COVID-19 much of it is on its way to homes, instead.
“We got into this because the restaurants disappeared,” said D’Artagnan President Andy Wertheim. “This is a question of finding another way to get the product into people’s hands.”
D’Artagnan has seen a spike in chicken, beef and lamb sales through its online ordering system since the pandemic hit, Wertheim said.
The company started its home delivery program in March for consumers don’t want to shop in stores or can’t find the meat that they want there. Wertheim said they make 25,000 to 30,000 deliveries a month, up from the 5,000 to 6,000 typical in a month before the pandemic hit.
“The home delivery program will stay as long as consumers find it of value to them,” said Wertheim.
D’Artagnan is one of many wholesalers suddenly selling to the public as supply and demand have dramatically shifted during the pandemic.
“Eighty-eight percent of our business was servicing the food service trade and when COVID-19 hit, essentially all of that business evaporated,” said Ben Walker, vice president of sales and marketing at Baldor Food, a gourmet restaurant supplier is based in the Bronx. “We quickly made a decision to pivot into home deliveries immediately after Cuomo shut down New York State.”
While still serving restaurants, Baldor workers now also pack boxes of produce, meats, pasta, eggs for home delivery, as well as some of their unique items loved by chefs, such unripe apricots for pickling and Triple AAA white asparagus from France.
These days, Walker said, about 4,000 boxes for roughly 2,000 home delivery customers are packed a day.
“We’re starting to learn that food service is going to be a slow return to normal and we’re preparing to be in this longer than we initially thought we would,” said Walker.
Wholesaler Gargiulo Produce only plans to expand its new straight-to-consumer sales, according to Monica Gargiulo, director of business development.
The wholesaler started a curbside pickup program at its site in Hillside in April for consumers who want produce and dairy. Customers order the food they want online and then go to the site to pick it up.
They can also get pre-packed boxes of fruits and vegetables, Gargiulo said. This summer, the company plans to create a crop share program.
“People were appreciative to have another option,” said Gargiulo.
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