FWD: Support caterers or services will suffer

Food distributors are warning that government advice to avoid pubs and restaurants will compromise their ability to fulfil vital contracts to schools, hospitals and care homes.

They are demanding clarity on the government’s intentions and extensive financial support for their 350,000 foodservice customers and the wholesalers who supply and support them.

Foodservice customers report they expect to see an 80% loss in revenue as the current advice stops short of ordering catering and entertainment establishments to close, which would enable them to claim insurance.

FWD has warned government that many customer businesses will not survive without further help and that the knock-on effect on distributors will place real pressure on public-sector food provision.

The federation is asking government to ensure wholesalers are offered the same financial tools and payment relief as other small businesses.

FWD Chief Executive James Bielby said: “Thousands of pubs, restaurant and cafes, many of them small independent businesses, are facing unprecedented hardship and many cannot survive even a short period without customers. Cashflow will be a real problem for many small businesses, which will mean they will be unable to pay their wholesaler.

“If suppliers don’t extend credit to wholesalers supplying schools, hospitals, prisons and care homes, it will be difficult to fulfil these contracts unless the government intervenes.

“Wholesalers are supporting their customers in every way they can, because if we are not there for them now they will not be there at all in future.

“We need effective financial support not only to businesses that feed the population, but to the wholesalers that supply and support them.”

FWD is in regular dialogue with government about ensuring continuity of supply.

coronavirus covid-19 Foodservice FWD Government James Bielby wholesaler