Takeout Day helps restaurants as industry continues to struggle

Commodity groups have joined Restaurants Canada and are encouraging people to order take-out food once a week to support the industry in the face of COVID-19.

Lisa Bishop-Spencer, director of brand and communications for Chicken Farmers of Canada, said the idea was initiated by Restaurants Canada.

“They were looking for different ways by which they could support both the small restaurants and the big ones just to figure out a way to help them through these hard times,” she said.

Given the food service represents 40 percent of poultry production in Canada, it made sense for Chicken Farmers, and other commodity groups, to join in the promotional campaign. Chicken Farmers lowered their production nationally by 12.6 percent to help mitigate the impacts of the pandemic.

“Now we have a whole market destination that is being tremendously impacted by COVID,” said Bishop-Spencer. “(Restaurants) are really part of the chain and part of the people that help deliver our product to consumers.”

Dairy Farmers of Canada, Egg Farmers of Canada, Chicken Farmers of Canada, Turkey Farmers of Canada and Canadian Hatching Egg Producers are all supporting the initiative.

Highlighted by social media posts using #TakeoutDay, the campaign encourages people to support restaurants on Wednesdays, or any day that works for them.

“We’re encouraging people if they have the means, because some people don’t have the means to, you know, to make sure that they don’t forget about their local restaurants,” said Bishop-Spencer. “And then, in many cases, those restaurants are offering take-out and delivery options.”

While the campaign has resulted in a spike in take-out orders at restaurants, the industry continues to struggle.

A recent report from Restaurants Canada shows 75 percent of their responding members are very or extremely concerned about their current level of debt.

An agreement between the federal government and provinces has been reached to help small businesses, including restaurants. The Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program is being tentatively supported by Restaurants Canada, as it is expected to allow restaurants to remain tenants in their buildings.

The situation remains ominous for many restaurant owners, however. According to Restaurants Canada, if conditions don’t improve, one out of every two independent businesses does not expect to survive the pandemic and most multi-unit food services businesses will be shutting down at least one location.

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