There is nothing better than a dollop of deliciously sweet jam on a perfectly toasted piece of sourdough for a decadent breakfast treat. No one knows this better than Liebré Jacobs and her partners at FruitLips – a fruit manufacturing company that produces jams, marmalades, chutneys, and fruit in syrup to selected retail stores. As businesses around the country close due to the COVID-19 national lockdown, Liebré gives the low down on FruitLips’ production and welfare during the quarantine.
FruitLips creates fresh, hand-made jams of the highest quality. The FruitLips farm is family-owned and is situated amongst the breathtaking mountains of the Piket-Bo-Berg, 150 kilometres from Cape Town, with a spectacular view on Table Mountain at the southernmost tip of Africa.
As a company, FruitLips has a love for the environment and sustainability due to its products’ need for mother nature’s nourishment, which is why it is an ecologically full-circle company. FruitLips recycles water to use in the herb and vegetable gardens and uses the peels and pips of the fruit to continue cycles of growth. Fruit offcuts are also accounted for and are turned into biological fertilizer by using red earthworms.
The main objectives of FruitLips is the creation of sustainable jobs for positive people and to build accountable citizens. The farm, with fruit trees in the valleys and marshes, provides jobs to more than twenty-six families, working together in building a future for generations to come. However, this has become difficult during the times of the COVID-19 pandemic, where quarantine is the norm and laws restrict the movement of people and products alike.
FruitLips during the pandemic
FruitLips acted preemptively to the COVID-19 pandemic and have been consciously cutting down their costs since January to ensure the survival of the business. The business has been lucky, in that 80% of their customers are still actively purchasing from the farm. As such, Liebré says that certain strategies will have to be put in place to recuperate the 20% sales loss.
If January was a time of preemptive implementation of tactical financial savings strategies, the following months of February and March strategies’ saw habits of bulk buying taken by South Africans so as to avoid the stores during the national lockdown. FruitLips has noted that consumer shopping trends have begun to change, in that prior to the pandemic, shopping trips were more frequent amongst consumers – buying smaller amounts of produce. On the other hand, lockdown-time shopping trips are limited, but consumers are buying increased amounts of produce. Liebré thinks that these new shopping trends will outlast the pandemic, and brands should start preparing for less frequent food shopping visits.
Liebré has also noticed the decrease in mark-ups as consumers’ income has been hit hard, and feels that after the pandemic, these lowered mark-ups should remain. She notes that consumers will still be in a financial slump after the COVID-19 recessions and that brands upping their prices will not go unnoticed by consumers.
If one thing is clear, shopping norms have gone out of the window due to the pandemic and are not expected to return any time soon. Businesses around South Africa will have to find a new normal as the lockdown disrupts more than just the economy, but social and shopping patterns alike. Tune in to episode nine of the lockdown Lowdown to find out more about FruitLips and Liebrés’ plans for after the pandemic here.