The contract is likely to be extended for a further three months beyond its current end date of 30 June
Bidfood and Brakes have delivered more than three million food parcels so far
The government has kicked off a tender process as it looks to extend its food box delivery scheme for the ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’, The Grocer has learned.
Boris Johnson said on Wednesday that the government would be updating its advice for those deemed most at risk from coronavirus next week. The Grocer understands Defra has identified businesses interested in servicing the contract currently held by Bidfood and Brakes.
Meetings were due to take place this week as the contract, understood to be worth £20m, is likely to be extended for a further three months beyond its current end date of 30 June.
Of the 1.5 million people categorised as clinically extremely vulnerable by the NHS, 450,000 were eligible to receive a food box of essential items worth £30 for an initial 12-week period. Bidfood and Brakes have delivered more than three million food parcels so far.
Neither Bidfood nor Brakes wished to comment on the tender process. However, Bidfood CEO Andrew Selley said: “I know that Bidfood and Brakes are providing an excellent service that is valued, both by the recipients, and our operational teams alike.
“We await to see the guidance from the government and the subsequent decision from Defra on any extension.”
Brakes CEO Hugo Mahoney added: “In partnership with government and Bidfood, we continue to deliver a first-class service to the clinically vulnerable and isolated.
“The food parcels continue to be a lifeline for the most needy in society, and we believe we are in a strong position to continue to provide this essential service. We are expecting a gradual re-mobilisation of the industry, and we will have the capacity and a willingness to serve both the vulnerable and our existing hospitality customers without making any compromises.”
One senior industry source said: “It would be right for other businesses to have the opportunity of tendering for what is a reasonably big contract at a time when many wholesalers are struggling to survive, with many commercial customers remaining closed.”
Defra declined to comment.