From Newspapers to Fruit & Veggie Delivery

COVID-19 has a negative impact on a variety of global industries, and one of them is the food business. If you don’t give up and see an opportunity, COVID may be opening the door to a new business that can generate growth. This article shares a true example happening in Tokyo where COVID has affected the eating behavior of people who are dining out much less than ever. Many restaurants close down both temporarily and permanently because people are eating at home instead. Customers also visit supermarkets less often to buy fruits and vegetables. The reason is Tokyo has a high proportion of elderly citizens so they are much worried about leaving home, and it risks their lives if they are infectious.


The situation has affected fruit and vegetable wholesalers. They used to deliver over 300 categories per day to big and small restaurants including supermarkets in Tokyo for more than 70 years. Effects of the COVID have dramatically reduced sales so many wholesalers are finding new ways to survive. They have shifted wholesale to home delivery but there is a limitation because wholesaling companies never have any experience in product delivery to consumers. Thus, wholesalers have joined hands with local newspaper senders who deliver newspapers to 6,000 households every morning in their control zone. The wholesalers ask newspaper agents to deliver fruits and vegetables to consumers directly as they are familiar with the area and houses in the community. Besides, the newspaper agents normally finish their job within 11.00 a.m. so they can manage the rest of the day to deliver fruits and vegetables right away. Consumers just tell the location and the newspaper agent will deliver fresh products to them the same day.

Both parties have cooperated with each other to create an Order form that consumers can easily pick their favorite products, for example, A sheet list of seasonal fruits and vegetables with their price in big letters attached with a newspaper, and then customers can make an order by scanning QR Code. When wholesalers receive orders, they will select premium fruits and vegetables and place them in one box per order, and then deliver all boxes to the newspaper agent. The agent will recheck the quality of products and pack them before delivering, and also enclose the seasonal fruits and veggies recipes.

Those practices have enabled the wholesalers to minimize delivery costs and increase a large number of sales while the newspaper agents have also gained more income by utilizing existing resources and skills. Elderly consumers who try to avoid going to crowded areas like supermarkets are happy as they are already familiar with the newspaper senders, and they are able to get fresh products by the same-day delivery. That model has been tremendously well-received. There is a huge number of orders coming in and other types of products like meat or flowers, want to follow.

We see that the adaptation strategy of fruit and vegetable wholesalers is not complicated at all. Try to stop repetitive thoughts and find out business partners in your area who can fulfill your objectives. All parties will win and consumers will get fresh products by fast service. Keep improving and make your customer demands your first priority, and then your business can get over the crisis and continue to grow.