Local authorities told to prioritise food distributors

Food and drink wholesalers across the UK have written to their local authorities asking for new grant funding to be allocated to preserving food supply in their areas.

The distributors, which supply care homes, schools and hospitals as well as pubs, restaurants and hotels, have received no specific support from the government during the Covid crisis and are in critical needs of financial assistance to maintain service to their customers. They say they have already had to make redundancies in their local authority areas – and in some cases are on the brink of collapse.

In a series of letters to their authorities, the wholesalers point out that government guidance issued this month specifically calls on them to “develop discretionary grant schemes to help businesses which – while not legally forced to close – are nonetheless severely impacted by the restrictions… for example, businesses which supply the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors.”

They also echo the words of Chancellor Rishi Sunak when announcing new grant allocations in October. He assured MPs that new funding could be used to support “the supply chains of those serving the hospitality industry.”

Since March many wholesalers have seen their businesses decline by up to 80% and the second closure of the hospitality sector in England has put further strain on their service to vital public sector contracts.

“While hospitality outlets and supermarkets have received funding, wholesalers have had nothing,” said FWD Chief Executive James Bielby.

“They are as much a part of the hospitality sector as restaurants and pubs, and as important to the nation’s food supply chain as supermarkets.

“Wholesalers across the UK are uniting to ask their authorities to heed the advice of both the Chancellor and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and prioritise grant funding for these overlooked heroes of food distribution.”

coronavirus covid-19 Foodservice FWD hospitality James Bielby wholesale