Fast food vendors slowed down by coronavirus


A sausage vendor in Nairobi. PHOTO | COURTESY

Fast food vendors have been hit hard by measures to contain the spread of coronavirus with thousands rendered jobless as national and county governments enforce restrictions.

The smokies and sausage vendors, who mostly sell their foods to workers in both formal and informal sectors, have been directed to stop selling their food products, leaving meat packaging firm Farmer’s Choice with 3.2 million smokies.

This, the company said, had left it grappling with a 91 per cent decline in sales after its 500,000 vendors were stopped from working.

The government has also imposed restrictions on hotels and restaurants, requiring them to only operate as take-away points, further hurting the sale of fast-moving consumers goods like sausages and smokies.

“We were selling over 3.5 million smokies in a week but we have drastically lost sales to below 300,000 smokies per week,” the national sales manager for Farmer’s Choice Ltd, Hezron Ndung'u said.

The restrictions mean that all the vendors have effectively been rendered jobless. Many of them have been congregating at Farmer’s Choice offices demanding that the company cushion them from the shocks.

The company has in turn asked the government to step in and offer a solution that will ensure that the vendors continue to continue operating.

Farmer’s Choice has urged the government to issue fresh guidelines to protect the fast consumer goods segment from running out of business.

“We have provided them with masks and dustcoats and are ready to buy sanitisers, just like other sub-sectors like the matatus, which are operating under some form of guidelines,” Mr Ndung'u said.

The virus has hit every sector of the economy globally, especially travel, food and hospitality, with orders to stay at home effectively disrupting supply chains that relied on fast food outlets and urban populations’ reliance on quick meals.

Restaurants have been ordered to remain closed, save for take-out services, while numerous hotels have closed down altogether or remain partially open due to a reduction in number of guests and the need to keep their workers safe from the viral infection.

By Tuesday, 59 people had been confirmed to have been infected with the virus, which affects the respiratory virus.

Besides the sausage maker, other companies which have been affected include Gaea Foods, a Nairobi-based supplier of potatoes for fast food chains, schools and other institutions.

The company said its sales had plunged by 65 per cent with outlets shut down and residents remaining at home, drastically reducing demand.

In The Netherlands, Dutch chips stands have been closed, leaving potato farmers stuck with over one billion of surplus spuds.