Food suppliers to the UK’s hospitality and healthcare sectors say they are on a “cliff edge” because of the impacts of lockdown.
A coalition of 18 trade associations led by the British Frozen Food Federation (BFFF) has written to the chancellor and other government ministers requesting the same level of financial assistance as has been given to pubs, cafes and restaurants.
BFFF chief executive Richard Harrow said the coalition had already spoken to ministers in May of last year.
Seven months later many of the food suppliers are on the verge of going out of business, which would mean customers like pubs, restaurants and care homes would be short of suppliers when the economy reboots following the pandemic, they say.
The trade associations have asked for several measures to be urgently put in place, including tax breaks and extending the business rates exemption to businesses supplying the hospitality and foodservice market.
This would use the existing legislative exemption for hardship.
The coalition says it also needs grants for companies that have had to dispose of fresh short-life stock either as charitable donations or as waste.
“These disposals have come about due to unplanned short-notice restrictions related to lockdowns, that impact suppliers of perishable goods disproportionately,” it said.
Harrow said: “England’s national lockdown, plus restrictions in the UK’s other nations, have been devastating for our many businesses supplying the hospitality and foodservice [industries] and they are facing a bleak winter.
“Many of the ‘squeezed middle’ are often successful family-owned SMEs and are now facing collapse. Those businesses... have not been given the same level of government assistance as the businesses they supply, despite being as hard hit by the restrictions.”
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