waiter in mask

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The introduction of curfews, local restrictions and a downturn in demand is putting the sector in danger

 The food and drink supply chain has come together to back foodservice wholesalers’ urgent call for financial help.

The campaign, spearheaded by the Federation of Wholesale Distributors, has gathered pace after the wider supply chain signed a joint letter from FWD CEO James Bielby to the Chancellor. The letter warned that public sector food supply was “in danger of collapse” with the introduction of curfews, local restrictions and the downturn in demand for foodservice and hospitality.

Among the 15 industry leaders to have signed the letter are FDF CEO Ian Wright, UKHospitality CEO Kate Nichols, British Soft Drinks Association CEO Gavin Partington, and British Beer and Pub Association CEO Emma McClarkin.

The letter said the industry had “grave concerns” over the provision of food to the public sector.

“Commercial revenue from the 70% of turnover distributed to the private hospitality sector underwrites the 30% of business supplied to public sector contracts,” it read. “Without the income from the commercial sector, the supply of food to institutions such as care homes, prisons, schools and hospitals is at immediate risk.”

The letter set out three measures needed “in order for the sector to survive”.

These are: an extension to the furlough scheme in areas listed as under tier two and tier three, business rates relief to the wholesale sector and discretionary grants to supply chains at risk of collapse.

Currently hospitality outlets operating within a tier three area qualify for additional help if they close but wholesalers are not able to close in many cases due to their public sector contractual commitments.

“The supply chain is united and coming together to call for support for wholesalers,” said Bielby. “Without distributors, suppliers can’t reach hospitality outlets – and this letter shows all points in the supply chain are as one in calling for much-needed government support for wholesale.”

The FWD has requested an urgent meeting with the Treasury.