To all AgriFood workers, thank you

Peter Higgins

Published: 2020-06-15

It has been a while since I wrote a blog. Too long. I feel I should write one once a month maybe even once a week. Last week I got a virtual tap on the shoulder from my colleagues who manage our marketing activities. My turn. I was up to write a blog. 

Usually when I get this prompt, I scratch around looking for a topic to write. Something intellectual or that at least portrays me as being somewhat insightful and knowledgeable. Sometimes I pick a topic relating to a particular challenge in commercialising a novel technology. Sometimes I write about a particular stage in the commercialisation journey. Other times, I try to find a topic within the world of Agrifood in which I have been helping to build RIG’s practice for the last three years. In truth, there are a wealth of topics out there for me to choose from. So numerous that I should be writing a daily blog.

However, this time it has been easy to settle on a topic and not just because Covid-19 has impacted Agriculture and Food tremendously including the fact that many factors driving the adoption of new technologies have been accelerated. These topics I will look to explore in a subsequent blog. No, the reason this has been the easiest and the most important blog I have written, is because the answer is so obvious.

I would like to use this blog to extend my thanks and appreciation to all of those across the AgriFood supply chain and eco-system who have worked throughout this crisis to keep food flowing and everyone fed. This appreciation extends from the growers and labourers on farms to those working in food processing to those in the shops (both small and large) and not forgetting the drivers and logistics companies who are critical to the movement across the supply chain and all those who supply inputs or services to the various stages in the value chain. This is not to takeaway from the huge debt we owe to healthcare workers. Rather I would like to use this opportunity and the small platform I have to thank all those working across the sector. Many of the workers and companies are either working for low pay or thin margins and yet when we needed them most they stood up.

I will never forget the day in March I went to my local supermarket and saw swathes of empty shelves. It looked so apocalyptic that I took a photo. What stuck with me more, though, was how helpful the staff in that supermarket were in trying to find stuff for customers. Trying to get produce out of the stores and onto shelves as quickly as they could. Equally, my local corner shop which has been open throughout and whose owner admitted to me that at times she struggled with balancing between the potential health risks and keeping her shop open. In April, there was the joy of being able to get slots for online deliveries. Then I learnt from a driver that in the peak of the crisis he could not get a delivery slot for his own groceries. Think about that. He works all day to deliver food but cannot get a slot to have his own food delivered.

I do not know if we are at the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning with regards to Covid-19, but before we either return to 2019 normality or enter the next phase, I would like to say Thank You to all the individuals and companies that have kept food supplies running during this period.