Everywhere you look right now, Coronavirus appears to dominate the headlines. But what impact has the virus actually had on our team, and what does it mean for the future of Bite Society?
It's safe to say that the world is in panic over the coronavirus, and with the number of cases escalating day by day, it's understandable that people are beginning to worry. Shelves of supermarkets have been run dry, and as of today, events and gatherings of people over 500 in Australia have been suspended.
The team here at Bite Society has also felt the effects. Simon moving in to live with his mother, taking extra-precaution by self-isolating, and myself trying to minimise contact with others, especially while on campus.
But what about the project as a whole?
Whilst our launch in Korea has been delayed due to restriction of face to face meetings with the distributor, the focus on e-commerce has meant that the future for Bite Society in Asia certainly isn't bleak. Following from that, despite our sales having decreased in places like Hong Kong, they haven't reduced to nothing and are still fairing well.
What has been affected, or at least we think will be in the weeks and months to come, is our stockists - the physical retail stores we supply to. As unfortunate as it is, it seems as though sales have been decreasing with people flocking to major supermarket chains to stock up on their basic needs instead of independent stores.
Looking at other countries such as Italy, has also made us question whether or not we will be able to continue to supply to retailers, in the awful case that they may need to close or take time off business. Of course we hope for this not to happen, but it's got us thinking about whether we should set up a direct consumer channel for Australia and New Zealand with the hopes that prioritising e-commerce will ensure people are still able to get their hands on our chocs.
On the upside, it means that there is a way for people to buy our products and stock up during times of what appear to be intense social anxiety and fear. On the downside, it means competing with our current stockists, and having to deal with potential labour costs, something we want to avoid.
As well as this, our other challenge has been with our manufacturer. We may have mentioned previously that we are hoping to move forward and launch a new product, and while we weren't expecting this outbreak to occur in the New Year, we went ahead and paid a deposit on it's production. Now we are left with the question of whether we delay, stop or continue our progress with the product, a hard decision we have yet to follow through on. Launching at a time where people need some hope and emotional boosting may be beneficial, but also means that we will be unable to host events or tastings, a factor that was crucial in the success of our first round of production.
If you are someone that runs a project or a business and have been affected by the virus, please feel free to send us an email or get in touch, as we would love to discuss and even share your story.
Many people have been treating the virus casually, and whilst it is of course important to prioritise our physical as well as mental wellbeing, it is just as important to honour and mourn for those who are truly being affected by the outbreak, and take precautionary measures not just for ourselves, but more importantly for those who are seriously at risk from the illness.
Nonetheless, we also understand how scary and daunting the current situation may be for a lot of people, and for that reason we wanted to share a few, slightly more positive outcomes that have arisen from the current crisis:
1. Following the outbreak, China has suspended the wildlife trade with nearly 20,000 wildlife farms having been shut down - a huge win for the animals.
2. Changes across Chinese society caused a 40% plunge in output across a multitude of industrial sectors, causing a reduction in the country's CO2 emissions by at least 25%.
3. Isolation may provide an opportunity to spend quality time with family and close friends, something we often take for granted.
Of course, once again, it's important to emphasise the necessity of taking precautions for the health and safety of those around us, reminding ourselves that this is an opportunity for people to come together and support one another, something we at Bite Society are currently, and determined to continue to do.
That being said, we thank you all for tuning in to this week's episode and we hope that you have a happy (and healthy) weekend.