Hospitality unites in wholesale support plea

A coalition of trade associations have joined forces to raise the need for the government to provide funding to ailing foodservice wholesalers.

With the food and drink supply chain in danger of collapse due to the introduction of national curfews and local restrictions, the group has penned a letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak asking for “urgent support”.

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.

“Commercial revenue from the 70% of turnover distributed to the private hospitality sector underwrites the 30% of business supplied to public sector contracts,” reads the letter.

“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.

“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.”

A number of signatories, including FWD, The Food and Drink Federation, UK Hospitality, The British Beer and Pub Association and The Wine and Spirit Trade Association, have thrown their support behind the letter, with the aim to prevent the high likelihood of business failures among distributors.

With foodservice wholesalers receiving no specific support from government and with the furlough scheme coming to an end this month, extra restrictions on the hospitality trade are threatening several businesses.

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.

FWD Chief Executive James Bielby says many of the federation’s members have already made redundancies and closed depots, and implores the government to do something before the picture gets worse.

“It’s a clear anomaly that this part of the hospitality sector has not received the support that its customers have had,” said Bielby.

“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.”

coronavirus covid-19 Foodservice FWD hospitality James Bielby Rishi Sunak Wholesalers