Wholesalers demand clarity on end of lockdowns

Food and drink wholesalers have warned the government they urgently need to know if the current lockdown restrictions in England are to end at 00:01 on 3 December, as has been announced.

Wholesalers need to buy in stock ahead of demand from their restaurant, pub and hotel customers, which means they will need to fill their warehouses up to a week before the proposed date for the re-opening or hospitality.

If the lockdown were to be extended with less than a week to go, this investment would be lost.

The issue is compounded by a lack of clarity on which regions will be under the most severe restrictions when the tier system returns.

“While we appreciate that the government must be guided by the effectiveness of the current lockdown, it must be aware that the food supply chain cannot be switched on and off at short notice,” said FWD Chief Executive James Bielby.

“Our members had to write off stock in March and again in October. While hospitality customers can judge demand and order stock within 24 hours of a resumption of trading, they can only obtain those products if the wholesaler already have them on sale.

‘Therefore it’s absolutely essential that clear notice is given of any extension of the current position, and what will replace it if businesses are able to open from 3 December.”

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