Thai grocery trucks get new life from COVID-19 shutdown

Thai grocery trucks get new life from COVID-19 shutdown

A mobile grocery truck of grocer Wannapa Yarnsarn, loaded with fresh produce, is seen along a stree
A mobile grocery truck belonging to Wannapa Yarnsarn is seen along a street on the outskirts of Bangkok, Thailand, Apr 10, 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha)

PATHUM THANI, Thailand: Cries of "Food, here comes the food," echoed through a Bangkok neighbourhood as Wannapa Yarnsarn's truck arrived with everything from mangoes and dried chillies to fresh pork for sale.

People emerged from homes where they have been sheltering in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus, choosing their shopping from display racks packed with bags of produce on the back of the truck.

READ: Thailand job losses may hit 10 million if COVID-19 outbreak drags on

Wannapa Yarnsarn, 32, a grocery truck vendor, sells fresh produce at a national housing condominium
Wannapa Yarnsarn, a grocery truck vendor, sells fresh produce at a national housing condominium in Pathum Thani province, Thailand, Apr 10, 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha)

Wannapa Yarnsarn (R), 32, a grocery truck vendor, prepares fresh produce at the Si Mum Muang Market
Wannapa Yarnsarn (right), a grocery truck vendor, prepares fresh produce at the Si Mum Muang Market, in Bangkok, Thailand, Apr 10, 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha)

For generations such mobile shops were common in Thai neighbourhoods but new shopping malls with their big supermarkets and convenience stores with microwave-ready meals have nearly driven them out of business.

Now the COVID-19 outbreak has given some of the back-of-a-truck shops a new lease of life.

"Although I'm scared of the virus, I still have to come out and sell, otherwise customers won't have anything to eat," said Wannapa, as she weighed and bagged produce for her customers.

READ: Songkran festival cancelled as Thailand combats COVID-19

Customers wearing face masks shop at Wannapa Yarnsarn's mobile grocery truck at a national hou
Customers wearing face masks shop at Wannapa Yarnsarn's mobile grocery truck at a national housing condominium in Pathum Thani province, Thailand, Apr 10, 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha)

Workers wearing face masks prepare fresh produce before loading them onto a mobile grocery truck at
Workers wearing face masks prepare fresh produce before loading them onto a mobile grocery truck at the Si Mum Muang Market in Bangkok, Thailand, Apr 10, 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha)

Wannapa said business had been good since the coronavirus virus emerged in January with an average daily profit of 2,200 baht (US$67) compared with about 1,800 baht (US$55) before.

Panalee Phatrapradit, the director of a wholesale market that serves hundreds of trucks plying their trade in Bangkok, also said the virus outbreak was good for a business that had long been in decline.

"Over the years, customers have gradually changed their behaviour because they have more choices, more access to products than before," she said.

"But once COVID-19 hit, the trucks are doing better because more people are staying home, and they're buying more per household."

READ: In Thailand, the COVID-19 outbreak is driving more consumers online

Customers wearing face masks gather around Wannapa Yarnsarn's mobile grocery truck at a nation
Customers wearing face masks gather around Wannapa Yarnsarn's mobile grocery truck at a national housing condominium in Pathum Thani province, Thailand, Apr 10, 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha)

A worker loads fresh produce onto a mobile grocery truck at the Si Mum Muang Market, during the cor
A worker loads fresh produce onto a mobile grocery truck at the Si Mum Muang Market in Bangkok, Thailand, Apr 10, 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha)

Thailand has reported 2,613 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 41 fatalities.

The government is trying to limit social gatherings and is urging people to stay at home. Shopping malls have been ordered to close except for restaurant deliveries and supermarkets, and a six-hour curfew is in force at night.

"There are too many people at the supermarkets," said Thepparak Bankajee, 43, an industrial worker now staying at home.

"We don't want to go out anyway because we all know that the food truck will be here."

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Source: Reuters/zl

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