crates of tomatoes in field tractor farming vegetables crops

Environment secretary George Eustice said the measures would “support our farmers and food producers in their vital work”

Morrisons has announced it will introduce “immediate payments” for smaller suppliers in a bid to prevent a cashflow crisis caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

It said the move would mean farmers, local food makers and many more small businesses would be paid early to help them deal with the impact of the outbreak, which is expected to put huge pressure on the supply chain for months.

As well as the immediate payments, Morrisons said it was also temporarily re-classifying a ‘smaller supplier’ from those with up to £100,000 of business a year with the company, to those with up to £1m. This would mean an extra 1,000 small food businesses would qualify for the emergency payment terms.

The temporary payment terms will start next week and last until at least the end of May.

“We are Britain’s biggest single food maker and we want to be there for the smaller food makers, farmers and businesses that supply Morrisons,” said CEO David Potts.

“We’re a British family business and we will be doing our best to support them through this challenging period.”

The move was praised by environment secretary George Eustice. “These measures will support our farmers and food producers in their vital work of feeding the nation.

“We already have a highly resilient food supply chain in this country, and I am continuing to work closely with Morrisons and other retailers on their response to coronavirus.

“The government has pledged £30bn in this year’s Budget for those affected and we’ve been clear that we will do whatever it takes to support people and businesses.”