FWD: wholesale will adapt to help customers

FWD says the wholesale sector will pull out all the stops to help small business adapt to the growing coronavirus emergency.

With the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases increasing by the day, the federation has highlighted its members close partnership with their customers as they deal with “unprecedented circumstances”.

“The situation is developing daily and our sector’s priority is to ensure that retailers and caterers get the supplies and support they need to meet the current needs of their customers,” said FWD Chief Executive James Bielby.

“We know that local shops such as The Day to Day Express in Stenhousemuir and foodservice outlets will be going out of their way to serve their communities in these unprecedented circumstances. They are more flexible than their larger competitors, and very good at adapting and improvising. It’s likely to be tough for foodservice operators as diners may stay away, but their wholesalers are standing by to help where they can.

“Suppliers and wholesalers will be focusing their efforts on helping their customers navigate the next few difficult weeks. That will include taking sensible precautions to prevent illness within their teams depleting their service.

“The food and drink supply chain is very resilient and although panic buying may introduce an element of volatility in some categories, we don’t anticipate any long-term shortages.”

FWD members across the sector are doing their best to deal with the threat and disruption, while the government’s budget 2020 has also offered support for businesses impacted by the virus.

Meanwhile, foodservice specialist Bidfood is keeping a close eye on supply chains as well as the safety of the people working within it.

“At Bidfood, we take the safety of the products we supply and our people, incredibly seriously. In responding to the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus around the world and in the UK, its impact on international supply chains as well as recent consumer stockpiling, Bidfood has an extensive range and supplier base to draw upon,” said Supply Chain and Technical Services Director, Jim Gouldie.

“We’ve put in place comprehensive plans that put us in a strong position to provide our customers with the necessary reassurance that we can continue to maintain availability of key products essential to their businesses, some of who cater for some of the most vulnerable in society.

“Our aim has been to prepare detailed and robust contingency plans, to work closely with suppliers to assess potential supply risks on products sourced from affected regions, as well as current stock levels held in the UK, and to provide as much clarity to customers on our approach, where potential supply risks may exist and the steps we are taking to mitigate these. Currently, we have not seen any significant supply shortages on key lines due to COVID-19 that we’re not in a position to mitigate.”

In order to deal with the growing demand for online, direct-delivery solutions, Bidfood has an established website partner, Catering2You, which consumers and businesses can use as a next-day service for core products delivered to their door.

“On almost all the range supplied by Catering2You, we’re seeing high levels of product availability,” Gouldie added.

“We have updated employees across our sites, advising them to take preventative measures in order to limit the risk of transmission, and continue to closely monitor the situation and advice from The World Health Organisation (WHO), The Food Standards Authority (FSA) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

“At present, there is no evidence to suggest that products imported from China could pose a risk of infection, and to-date there has been no change or official guidance announced by the government regarding food regulations, in relation to the Covid-19 virus.”

Bidfood Catering2You coronavirus covid-19 FWD supply chain