Warning issued over public sector food supply

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been warned that the supply of food to care homes, schools, hospitals and prisons is at risk unless the government steps in to support struggling wholesalers.

Trade bodies representing major food companies said the loss of business from the hospitality sector has meant that firms which also serve the public sector could fail. In a letter to Sunak, they highlight issues with the supply of items made especially for care homes and hospitals, such as easy-to-swallow foodstuffs for people who have difficulty eating.

The Federation of Wholesale Distributors and the Food and Drink Federation said that the distribution cannot be replaced by deliveries from supermarkets, claiming that the same supply that is crucial to care hoes is also essential to the ongoing supply of food to primary and secondary schools for the provision of school meals.

The trade bodies are urging the Chancellor to distribute discretionary grants and extend the furlough scheme to wholesalers in areas under tier 2 and 3 restrictions, to avoid supply warehouses closing. They also want business rates relief to be extended to the wholesale sector.