COVID-19 Update: May 2020


Tuesday 12 May 2020



Dear Customers and wider friends of Organic Herb Trading,
 
Since the outbreak of the pandemic in the UK, we have been able to operate much more closely to normal than I ever could have expected - and I will always be especially grateful to the staff that have made this possible. From the core group who have constantly gone the extra mile and achieved more with less during the last seven weeks, to the staff that have continued to work from home, whilst juggling childcare or looking after dependants.
 
As a result, we have almost returned to our normal service levels for packed down orders, pallet/container goods, and for manufacturing of customer blends, cuts and powders. Our courier has also confirmed that as of 5th May, previous restrictions on deliveries to areas throughout Europe have been lifted. And our pallet freight provider for UK and international orders is operating to all usual destinations. 
 
Like all businesses that have remained open, we have gone through a very steep learning curve and had to deal with an array of challenges that we simply had not considered before March. As we adjust to the new normal - we have increasingly turned our attention to the medium and longer term. Currently we are well stocked with our core range and our suppliers continue to be very pro-active and supportive – getting products moving from origin. However, a much bigger concern relates to raw ingredients that are due to be harvested in 2020, and the impact this will have on availability during late 2020 and 2021. For example, at the time of writing, it is very hard to know the extent to which coronavirus will reduce the movement of people across Europe to undertake wild harvesting, or the challenges of implementing social distancing in agricultural operations/collection centres in the Global South. In addition, there is little/no Government support in most of our supplier’s countries – which in turn will have a significant impact on their economies and workforces. I could almost hear our tea supplier’s jaw drop - all the way from Kolkata - when I explained about the furlough scheme, tax breaks and interest free loans available in the UK.
 
During the course of the coronavirus outbreak I have become increasingly annoyed by the unsolicited e-mails that dress themselves up as trying to be supportive “during these difficult times” – when in truth that are nothing more than a rather unsophisticated attempt at sales. So I am very conscious of not falling into this trap. Equally, no one will thank us if we are seen to be wise after the event and do not share really valuable supply-chain information with our customers when this is available. Although, we are not suggesting that any of our customers should stock-pile at this stage – we would encourage you to make contact with us to discuss your requirements/forecast over the next 6 to 12 months – especially if there are key ingredients that could affect your ability to manufacture products later in 2020 or 2021.
 
Once again, thank you for being so supportive to our staff, and for your ongoing understanding.
 
With best wishes,
 
Jim Twine
Managing Director