The Food & Drink Federation has reminded suppliers to give fair allocation of stock to the independent supply chain in a bid to prevent empty convenience store shelves.
The FDF, Association of Convenience Stores and Federation of Wholesale Distributors are working together to ensure local shops are not forgotten when manufacturers are making decisions on allocating stock.
It comes after the trade bodies partnered in April 2020 to deliver a similar message following the panic buying that swept the nation.
FDF CEO Ian Wright wrote to members this week to warn that the combination of border issues and staff absences due to Covid was likely to cause some challenges with maintaining supply to all essential food retail customers.
“Getting allocations right will be challenging because overall sales levels are fluctuating wildly, but last year we saw sustained elevated sales in the convenience sector, driven by higher basket spend and further augmented by an increase in deliveries from convenience stores to customers’ homes,” he wrote. “There remains a recognition in government of the crucial role this sector is playing in communities, the reach of c-stores up and down the country and the need to ensure a balance of availability of supply.”
Wright added that during the first lockdown manufacturers had success adjusting or overriding algorithms, reducing lead times, re-evaluating SKU rationalisation decisions and increasing order frequency to reflect rising sales and the wider social importance of the convenience sector.
“All of these measures were much appreciated and it would be helpful if you were able to consider these in the context of current decisions on stock allocation,” he continued.
ACS CEO James Lowman said: “It was clear in the first wave that local shops were essential in maintaining the breadth of supply points that consumers needed. This advice is very practical, looking at the algorithms and assumptions behind stock allocation, and ensuring that local shops are getting supply based on current consumer demand. The FDF and their members have responded brilliantly to the challenge of supplying the whole sector, and by re-issuing this advice we hope to remind them of the effective steps taken nine months ago.”
FWD CEO James Bielby added: “Wholesalers are facing two opposite challenges: surviving the loss of hospitality trade without government support, and servicing higher demand for retail product lines. Getting the right allocations is crucial as we navigate this phase of the pandemic and we’re delighted to be working with colleagues at both ends of our supply chain to help support local shops and their customers.”