Clive Beddall, John Wood The grocery industry was bracing itself for disruption on Thursday amid rumours that food distribution depots will be blockaded by fuel duty protesters if Chancellor Gordon Brown fails to deliver in next week's pre-Budget report. Contingency meetings between senior MAFF officials and representatives of key industry organisations have been held and it's understood that major multiples and larger suppliers have also held talks about emergency procedures should the blockades return. In addition, briefing documents explaining the relevant powers of the police should food depots be blockaded have been circulated. Home Secretary Jack Straw told the Commons on Thursday that preparations had been made to protect food depots. On Thursday a MAFF spokesman confirmed that "food and food-related activities" would be priority areas for fuel supplies in the event of supply disruption". MAFF is also liaising with the Home Office on security measures in the event of an escalation of the protests, but a spokesman added: "All the contingency plans in the world will mean nothing if consumers panic buy groceries. Suppliers have sophisticated distribution systems, but even they will be hard hit if the public starts to hoard food." Federation of Wholesale Distributors director general Alan Toft said: "The whole industry is much better prepared. Every one of our members has been sent a fuel crisis pack telling them how they can get fuel. MAFF has done a very good job." Toft said the FWD was setting up a nerve centre at its Eastbourne HQ for members who have problems to call. {{NEWS }}