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Blackout warnings needed to protect food and drink supply chain, MPs told

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Food and drink supply chain bosses have told MPs that early advanced warnings must be given in the event of energy blackouts to safeguard the provision of food and drink within the hospitality sector.

MPs at the Food and Drink Supply Chain APPG inquiry session on the impact of the energy crisis on the sector, held this week, heard that details of energy supply should be communicated by the government and that tailored, planned interventions are needed to manage the situation and mitigate the impact of the energy crisis.

Redundancies, business closures and a sharp decline in investment are likely to follow should businesses within the food supply chain miss out on energy support after March, MPs were told during the session.

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It comes as new chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced that the government’s energy relief scheme will support businesses for just six months before means testing is introduced.

The group heard that greater support is needed from the government on school meals to ensure that growing supplier costs do not result in a reduction in quality and nutrition for children.

Ian Mace, head of government affairs and policy at Associated British Foods, said: “We’ve seen the ONS data today that food price inflation is approaching 15%, most commentators would believe there is some way to go, and we would certainly agree with that.”

Lyndsey Cambridge, head of engagement at the Federation of Wholesale Distributors, said: “We’ve seen the closure of businesses in the hospitality space, and members are looking at recruitment freezes and at reducing the sale of frozen and chilled products as well.”

British Beer and Pub Association chief executive, Emma McClarkin, said that energy costs used to be five per cent of overheads for hospitality businesses, but by July they were 10% and by the end of the year they are forecast to be 15%. She added: “We will need to see the extension of the energy support beyond six months.”

Shadow food minister, Daniel Zeichner MP, noted that the “lack of stability at the moment is not at all helpful”.

Foodservice inflation hits 15% for first time as industry ‘caught in eye of fierce storm’

Tags : BBPAfoodsupply chain
Joshua Walton

The author Joshua Walton

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