What to do with local food markets during the coronacrisis?

The discussion about the food supply is mainly about the major players in retail and wholesale. That is fragile. The distribution supply chains are under great pressure. The industry is doing its utmost best to ensure that the food supply chain continues. However, the local markets seem to be forgotten in the approach. That is not justified.

There are voices in many cities to simply close the major markets. For a good reason, given public health concerns. But can’t we organize the markets differently? Our food markets play a key role in the food supply. The local market vendors know like no other local suppliers, can respond fast to changes in demand and supply and they offer an affordable alternative for people with less money. The markets can help secure local food supply chains release the pressure in the overflowing retail stores.

How can I safely and with ‘social distance’ visit the food markets? Online ordering and payment are possible. Many market vendors already have an online ordering function for their customers. Sometimes just with Whatsapp. The consumer collects the groceries himself by bicycle, on foot or by car.
On the Ten Katemarkt in Amsterdam (NL), ‘Local Heroes‘ already offers a collection and delivery option. The order can be collected free of charge from the pick-up point on Kinkerstraat. Or, the order can be delivered to your home for a small fee.

markt ploos lindengracht

Some provincial cities have large markets with regional impact. Then a pick-up-point does not work. What do you do if there are 4,000 to 6,000 consumers in line on a busy Saturday? Then an option could be to move those markets, but smaller, closer to residential areas; creat many, small local markets. Then you also avoid any unnecessary trips by consumers.

Let the municipalities sit down with the market vendors before closing their markets. What solutions are available to prevent contact between and with customers, to reduce displacements and, last but not least, to preserve the future of our food markets. Create space in or near residential areas for small food markets with a good range of essential products.

Walther Ploos van Amstel.


Foto: Bram Sniekers

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