Fred’s Corner: How Will You Remember 2020?

FCW – As I transition into full-time retirement, I will be contributing a series of musings to DRC Solutions Blog.

How Will You Remember 2020?

In a word, Sobering.   As January began, I had a new granddaughter (in the US) due in a few weeks, and my wife and I were looking forward to our trip to the Caribbean a bit later.   We also had plans in the works to celebrate my other granddaughter’s 7th birthday (who also lives in the US) at the lake. , What could be better! 

The DRC was celebrating 20 years in operation and filling its mandate as Canada’s dispute resolution authority and officially recognized in the now in force Safe Food for Canadians Regulations.  Plans for a refresh and celebrations throughout the year were underway, including plans to meet with and thank our members face to face for their support. 

Little did any of us know that a virus reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) on December 31, 2019, would consume 2020.   One month later, on January 30, 2020, the WHO declared COVID-19 a global health emergency, and weeks later on March 11, 2020 COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic. 

Do you remember what you were doing that week?   I was sitting in a grand ballroom at a dinner following an industry annual meeting.   Folks had flown in from all over. We did not yet know what social distancing was, and no one was recommending that the public wear masks! I shook the hand of many friends and of course the kiss on the cheek when appropriate.  How quickly things changed!

Trade shows cancelled.   Marketing plans were gutted and sent back to the drawing board.   Business trip budgets became investments in virtual technology and working from home a reality for many.  Toilet paper and Lysol wipes could have been used as currency!  A morning COVID-19 self-evaluation, face masks, hand sanitizers, and physical 6-foot distancing, became as routine as the morning cup of coffee.

Communication within and outside of the office had to and did change practically overnight.   From my vantage point, this industry, as it has always does, adapted and overcame.  Fruits and vegetables continued finding their way to consumers through different channels.    

How will our industry remember 2020?    I think it was the “year of the pivot.”   Pivot has become a buzzword in general business, but the fresh fruit and vegetable industry has defined it by reacting to an unforeseen threat that was poised to shake the stability of the current marketing and distribution chain. 

Thank you one and all for being heroes and keeping us fed.