James Bielby

FWD CEO James Bielby said ‘costs are going to continue rising, and be passed on to the public, unless the government intervenes immediately’

The Federation of Wholesale Distributors has called on the incoming prime minister to take immediate action to tackle inflation, boost the economy and support the food distribution network.

In a letter to Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, the FWD said its members had been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, labour shortages and the Ukraine war, resulting in substantial increases in the costs of business.

The manifesto calls for industry pressures to be eased by immediately cutting fuel duty, returning to a 12.5% VAT rate for hospitality businesses and implementing a moratorium on existing policies that are driving up inflation.

The trade association argued that cutting fuel duty was one of the most effective ways of reducing food price inflation, because increased distribution costs had a knock-on effect throughout the supply chain and resulted in higher prices for consumers.

It also argued that, while schemes such as DRS and the HFSS clampdown were welcome in the long term, the increased costs they levelled on the sector made the policies unwelcome in the present inflationary trading environment.

The FWD also called for a greater allocation of funds for public sector food budgets, as well as a re-examination of post-Brexit labour planning.

It follows Bidcorp UK CEO Andrew Selley’s warning in May that school caterers could be forced to serve smaller portions due to inadequate funding in the public sector.

“Ensuring a robust, safe, varied and competitive food distribution network has to be among the new prime minister’s first priorities,” said FWD CEO James Bielby.

“Costs are going to continue rising, and be passed on to the public, unless the government intervenes immediately.

“Our manifesto proposes several actions that would limit those rises, keep prices affordable in shops, restaurants and public sector contracts.”

The letter has also been sent to all Conservative MPs, requesting that it be forwarded to the leadership candidates.