The COVID-19 pandemic was a test for many, and for us at Food Consulting Services (FCS), it was a period filled with uncertainty, fear, but also unwavering determination. Specialising in different aspects of the food industry, we found ourselves facing challenges we’d never imagined. This is a story of not just our survival, but of how our close-knit team rallied together, prioritising job security and adapting swiftly to the changing landscape.

At FCS, our services include:

  1. Testing for the Retail Sector
  2. Testing for the Food Manufacturing Sector
  3. Testing and Auditing for the Food Service and Hospitality Sector

Though retail and food manufacturing remained essential, it was our Food Service and Hospitality sector, making up a significant 40% of our turnover, that was hit hardest by the economic impact of the pandemic.

How We Navigated the Storm:

  1. Our Safety Net: Years of careful financial planning meant we had a savings reserve. More than ever, this buffer became crucial, ensuring we could cover essential costs, such as salaries.
  2. Staying Liquid: Our cautious financial approach, which typically steered clear of loans unless for major projects, meant we had cash available. This proved indispensable when revenues began to vary.
  3. Adapting to Change: Our ethos has always been one of efficiency. This meant we could adjust our expenses in line with fluctuating revenues, lessening potential losses.
  4. Protecting Our Team: Aware that our team’s livelihoods were at stake, we introduced a salary adjustment strategy, but sought support from the Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS). This meant not a single member of our team was let go – something we’re particularly proud of.
  5. Staying Compliant: Our diligent record with the South African Revenue Service (SARS) made accessing TERS benefits smoother. A nod to our dedicated accountant, Carmen Birkner, and our consistent commitment to ethical business dealings.
  6. Working with Our Partners: We engaged with our clients, devising flexible payment plans to keep the cash flowing when times got tough.
  7. Leading by Example: Our directors took a voluntary 70% pay cut for six months. It was a clear signal of their dedication to the FCS family and our shared journey.
  8. Pivoting with Purpose: Instead of merely weathering the storm, we sought to adapt. We rolled out new training programmes, audits, and microbiological testing services in response to the pandemic. These not only brought in new revenue but also reinforced our commitment to our industry.

Looking Back and Ahead: Through all the trials, our focus at FCS was clear: protect our team, adapt to the situation, and always, always keep moving forward. As we now reflect on this chapter, we do so with gratitude for the lessons learned. We’re not just resilient; we’re ready for what’s next, determined to play our part in rejuvenating the food industry and maintaining our ethos of adaptability and resilience.