Third of wholesalers face ruin without support

Up to a third of food and drink wholesalers could face financial ruin without further support during the coronavirus crisis, an FWD survey has revealed.

The figures, released on BBC Breakfast, highlights the desperate issues some foodservice wholesalers face if government doesn’t act, with large swathes of the supply chain facing destruction.

And FWD Chief Executive James Bielby used the announcement to reaffirm the call for measures to be brought in to stop the situation reaching a point where businesses that rely on wholesalers to supply them with food are left with none.

“The danger is that pubs, restaurants and hotels and leisure will open their doors again for the public but there won’t be enough food in the supply chain to feed them,” Bielby said on the BBC Breakfast interview.

“If there are issues around cash flow and a squeeze on credit, it means there won’t be those businesses available to supply those business re-opening their doors.

“We are calling on the government to offer some sort of tax relief on products through no fault of their own, wholesalers are having to dispose of.”

The BBC feature also suggested £20m worth of food with short shelf life was at risk of being wasted if the situation doesn’t change and also highlighted the plight facing foodservice wholesaler Metrow Foods.

Managing Director at Metrow Foods, Bruce Hodges, explained the difficulties many other wholesalers are dealing with since lockdown began and what businesses are trying to do to reduce waste and protect their futures.

“We’ve got product here that’s gone out of date, so it’s no good and we just need to get rid of it

“All that we’re seeing out there in the freezers and the chillers is stock that is dead money effectively because it isn’t going out into the marketplace and returning revenue.

“We’ve never seen a situation like this before, where things close down overnight and it’s going to put some people out of business for sure.”

BBC coronavirus covid-19 FWD Government James Bielby Metrow Foods