British Frozen Food Federation (BFFF) Chairman Nigel Broadhurst and Chief Executive Richard Harrow have jointly penned an open letter asking customers of its members to share UK government-issued financial aid with suppliers who are under pressure as a result of the lockdown and social distancing policies now in place throughout the nation. FrozenFoodsBiz.com has reproduced the text in its entirely, as follows:
Over the course of the last few weeks the food production and supply chain [in Britain] has demonstrated innovation, fortitude and resilience in the face of the Covid‐19 crisis.
This has taken many forms, such as manufacturers having to produce at more than a 100% capacity, with fewer staff or businesses such as wholesalers seeking new ways to sell products direct to consumers. In many cases this has been about companies and people going to extraordinary lengths to make things happen.
Our BFFF retail members and suppliers into the retail grocery market are struggling to cope with unprecedented demand. Frozen food has seen a significant increase in sales as consumers have been stocking up their freezers during the lockdown. This has obviously created major challenges, both ensuring that there is enough product to meet demand and stretched the financial resources of suppliers.
On the other hand, many of our members selling into the Out of Home [foodservice] market have seen their business disappear before their eyes as pubs, clubs, restaurants, gyms etc have been closed. Many BFFF companies are extending debt to pay suppliers, so they will still be there to supply the market when the time comes to open for business again.
The government has transferred more than £3 billion to local authorities and as a result many companies that are consumer-facing businesses will be receiving grants to support them. We are asking these companies to ensure that this financial aid moves back down the supply chain.
It is vital that some liquidity finds its way through the supply chain so that businesses that have served the market so well over many years, either wholesalers or manufacturers, survive this crisis. We would therefore ask any business that receives funds from the government to use some of it to pay suppliers for the goods that have already been supplied.
It is vital that the frozen food industry retains the businesses that it is built upon so that as we come out of this crisis, we have the infrastructure to help kick start the economy.