Bodies representing different parts of the food supply chain have urged Government to set out what kind of support it intends to offer businesses in the event of a second wave of coronavirus.
Food and Drink Federation (FDF) chief executive Ian Wright described a two peak crisis as the ‘big scare’ for the food service industry as it could wipe out many otherwise legitimate businesses.
He called on Ministers to consider introducing sector and region-specific support to help the industry weather the storm.
Giving evidence to MPs on the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee this week (May 19), Mr Wright said: “There is a risk that just as hospitality is beginning to get back on its feet and recover, there is a second spike, and either nationally or regionally, whole chunks of the population are locked down again.
“I think a second shock like that will probably, without very sensible Government support, see many of those businesses taken out forever.
“This is something the Government really does need to think about now, because if you knew that provision might be available, you would be a lot more confident about building back up.”
Nick Allen, chief executive of the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA), also said the Government needed to ‘signal its intentions’ well in advance of any second peak.
“Speaking for a part of the sector which supplies product further on down the supply chain, you need advance warning,” he said.
“If we get a second spike, we have to adapt, but laying out a clear plan will help the supply chain plan for it.”
James Bielby, chief executive of the Federation of Wholesale Distributors, who was also giving evidence to the committee, raised a broader concern about the Government failing to set out a detailed plan for the food service sector to exit the current lockdown.
“Any guidance in terms of the roadmap with staging posts to say which types of the market will be reopening first, and in what way, would help the supply chain to be ready,” he said.
“It is not just a case of saying ‘in four weeks we are going live’. That would be the worst possible outcome, because businesses need time to prepare. Going all at once at the same time would mean nobody would get a sufficient supply of food.”