Back to the kitchen
We all know that the pandemic is not over. Still, we also know that we need to learn how to live with it. The world is trying to get going, especially the hospitality and the restaurant sector. As the restaurants start to re-open, there are several uncertainties. What will be the new normal of dining out? How will it work? What will be the rising trends? Will it be possible to go back to normal, or how can we define and shape the new normal? The questions are seemingly endless. To find answers is not easy, and obviously most will remain unanswered for some time.
In order to adapt to the new normal and to draw a strategic road map for businesses, Metro Cash & Carry organized an e-summit titled “Back to Kitchen-The New Normal of the HoReCa Sector.” Since 30 years, being the number one strategic partner of the HoReCa - Hospitality, Restaurant, Catering sector, the Metro group has been taking the lead to bring other major stakeholders together, such as Sustainability Academy Turkey; TUROB, the Hotel Association of Turkey; and TURYID, the Turkish Restaurant & Entertainment Association. As the restaurant sector is returning to the kitchens, it is just the right time to assess the situation.
The consumer trends are prone to change, it is possible that people will opt for less crowded and quieter places, perhaps go to family-owned small establishments, to places where they know the owner, or perhaps even the other frequent customers, where they can feel secure and safe. During the lockdown period many restaurants resorted to take away, and some have succeeded to survive this way. Actually, some did so well that they may continue to keep going this way, considering the lower costs, and the increased consumer demand in home delivered good quality food. Kaya Demirer, the president of TURYID and also an owner of the upscale Frankie restaurant, has mixed feelings about this. While he sees the advantages of home delivery, and is happy that many fellow restaurants could manage to overcome the pandemic period this way, he points out to the fact that it is not only the food itself that counts, it is also the experience an establishment offers; the music, the ambiance, the socializing factor, to see and been seen, the flattering feeling of being pampered by the service. Dining out is often an experience beyond the food itself, though the food is the core essence of course.
But when it comes to the food, how the sector will get the food, how the agriculture sector is doing, what the situation of the producer in these hard times is, is another issue that one needs to tackle. The e-summit had also the sub-agenda of having a look on the supply chain. The Metro group has given enormous support to products that have GI – Geographical Indication label, they have been the pioneer group giving a helping hand to producers to sustain the agriculture of products such as the deliciously juicy Finike orange, extra ordinarily potent Taşköprü garlic, the elusive Kırklareli lamb, the infamous Aydın fig, which was known as the Smyrna fig throughout the history, the purple onion of Kapıdağ, and several more. Today, around 150 GI labeled products are on the shelves of Metro Turkey and about 120 restaurants feature these products regularly in their menu, proudly indicating the source of origin. In collaboration with gastronomy and vocational schools around 65,000 students have awareness on the importance of such products.
Another very important opportunity of the e-summit was to have two CEOs of Metro Group together, Boris Minialai of Turkey branch, and Tanya Kopps from Italy. The good news is sharing the same visions, and acting in similar ways to support the producer and creating the crucial bridge between the HoReCa sector, there will be possible future collaborations between Turkey and Italy, two countries which have much in common, with great similarities both in soil and climate, and as a result having a great appetite for similar taste. Italy has tremendous expertise in GI products. Actually, it is a country like a heaven of artisanal produce. Turkey can learn a lot from this rich culture, and why not build a solidarity bridge connection the Gravyer (local gruyere) of Kars and Parmigiano of Parma?
As it was in the headlines during the pandemic, there have been major strains on the topic of seasonal laborers for harvest in Europe. I wondered how Italy coped with this, as similar speculations have come from Italy as well. Tanya Kopps says: “As Metro Italy, one of our biggest purposes, is the sustainable development of local producers and local production. With this, we support both the Italian agricultural food supply chain comprising of small business that are going through a drastically rough period, and the enrichment of the menus of customers of HoReCa businesses that have increased sensitivity on topics of hygiene and food reliability after the pandemic, by offering more and more local artisanal products. There are more than 7,000 products coming from small producers on Metro Italy’s shelves. There is a team working on the enrichment of local products and tastes with wine in our purchase department. Furthermore, we have signed a collaboration with FAI-Coldiretti Association in October 2019. Within the fundamentals of this collaboration, we utilize the power of FAI-Coldiretti Association in order to strengthen our support to further the contribution of HoReCa businesses to their regions and local economies.”
Boris Minialai also proudly stresses that Turkey Metro has 98 % of all its produce is local, procured directly from the small producer. Apparently, when going back to kitchen, one major priority starts from supporting the local producer.
Hopefully with the accumulated experience of both countries, Italy and Turkey will be creating more collaboration models, may be creating a new normal, a more sustainable one.
Fork of the Week: Clean Harvest is the motto of a new consumer cooperative in support of local producers. “Temiz Hasat Tüketim Kooperatifi” (the Clean Harvest Consumer Cooperative) is a civil society initiative, with the volunteer work of its founders, they aim to provide economic support to sustain the livelihood of communities, helping farmers and producers to reach the consumer end.
They have Solidarity Packages on offer and you can sign to receive a package once every three months for a year, getting the produce of the harvest. If you want give a helping hand, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and leave your name and phone number to receive the details.