The UK foodservice supply chain is in danger of collapse with the introduction of national curfews and local restrictions, says a coalition of British trade associations, spearheaded by the Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD), in a letter to the Chancellor.
The groups, which represent food producers, distributors and hospitality businesses, say they have grave concerns over the provision of food to the public sector unless the Treasury steps in to support the wholesale distributors who supply catering products to both the public and private sector.
The letter says: “Commercial revenue from the 70% of turnover distributed to the private hospitality sector underwrites the 30% of business supplied to public sector contracts. Without the income from the commercial sector, the supply of food to institutions such as care homes, prisons, schools and hospitals is at immediate risk.
“Not all of the wholesalers will survive and that means disruption to supply. The thing that’s galling for us is that the wholesale sector and supply chains in general have had no sector-specific support.”
“Wholesalers send specialist food to care homes and this cannot be replaced by deliveries from supermarkets. The same supply chain is also essential to the ongoing supply of food to primary and secondary schools for the provision of school meals.”
Wholesalers have received no specific support from Government and with the furlough scheme coming to an end as restrictions on the hospitality trade increase, there is a high likelihood of business failures among the distributors, the FWD says.
The letter continues: “Job loses, business and site closures are a reality unless the Government extends its new and existing support measures to the hospitality sector and to the distributors who supply it.”
It calls on the Chancellor to extend the furlough scheme in areas listed under Tier 2 and 3 restrictions, extend Business Rates Relief to the wholesale sector, and offer discretionary grants to supply chains at risk of collapse.
James Bielby of the Federation of Wholesale Distributors, many of whose members have already made redundancies and closed depots, said: “It’s a clear anomaly that this part of the hospitality sector has not received the support that its customers have had. It’s particularly anomalous that the supermarkets, which have benefitted from the closure of pubs and restaurants, have received substantial business rates relief while the wholesalers who provide essential supply to the health, education and care sectors have not.”
Signatories of the letter include The Federation of Wholesale Distributors, The Food and Drink Federation, UK Hospitality, The British Beer and Pub Association and The Wine and Spirit Trade Association.
Enjoyed this free article from Fresh Produce Journal and its team of editors? Don’t miss out on even more in-depth analysis, plus all the latest news from the fresh produce business. Subscribe now to the Fresh Produce Journal.