FDSC launches Covid-19 recovery plan

20 July 2020, 13:50 PM
  • Report highlights the need for a more sustainable food system
FDSC launches Covid-19 recovery plan

The Food and Drink Sector Council has launched its Covid-19 Recovery Plan, outlining six key areas that are central to restarting the food industry and building on lessons learned during the pandemic. The reports shows how the events of the past four months have highlighted both the strength of collaboration and the “fragility” of the food system, as within days of lockdown the industry needed to keep the UK fed – its biggest challenge since 1945.

Terry Jones, industry co-chair of the FDSC and director general of the NFU, said, “The Covid-19 crisis has demonstrated the strength of the UK food chain, and it has shown just how well industry and government can work together. However, it has also laid bare the fragility of our food system and reminded us all of its importance. Despite the challenges, everyone came together to ensure food supplies were maintained, shelves stacked and our most vulnerable people protected. This report clearly outlines what needs to be done to ensure the entire sector can restart successfully and build a greener, healthier food system for all.”

Ian Wright CBE, industry co-chair of the FDSC and chief executive of the FDF, said that “hidden heroes” had been keeping the supply chain going, but a sustainable system was needed in the future: “Throughout the pandemic, the hidden heroes operating across the farm-to-fork supply chain have kept the country fed in the most difficult of circumstances. Collaboration has been a key theme during this time, and we must take our shared learnings forward as we look to support all parts of the supply chain with their recovery. The FDSC’s recovery report is a clear and comprehensive plan that ensures we can do just that, while helping to build a sustainable food system for the future.”

The report highlights that the new challenge now is to “successfully restart all sectors of the industry, protect food industry employees and customers and support businesses in each sector of the food chain through to recovery,” and identifies six key outlines:

1. A phased, coordinated and flexible restart plan
2. The extension and tapering of industry support schemes
3. A united effort to support the industry’s worst-hit sectors
4. Protecting the health of food industry employees and ensuring reliable availability of labour
5. Protecting the UK’s supply chain integrity and competitive position
6. Accelerating plans to increase UK exports

Paul Hargreaves of Cotswold Fayre told Speciality Food that for indies, getting on top of their online offerings has been a key lesson; “Most independent retailers have done very well during this time, which is great for the speciality food sector as a whole, and I can’t help thinking that will carry on for years in terms of the customer loyalty base built up during the time. I think what they have probably learnt is that they should have started home deliveries and websites before now so customers could more easily order and have food delivered to their home.”

He added that there is a need for a more sustainable food system and that buying British should be a key message moving forward. “The issues we’re having now with supply and getting ingredients that come from outside the UK is only going to get worse with Brexit looming. Buying British has always been a good message, but it’s probably more important now than ever. Producers need to have a supply chain that is as British as it can be.”

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