The Foodservice Equipment Association has called on the government to provide financial aid for continued R&D, so that suppliers can develop equipment that will support the new challenges facing kitchens when they emerge from lockdown.
With restaurant operators facing the prospect of reopening kitchens with stringent social distancing measures in place, equipment manufacturers will have a key role to play in providing appliances that enable capacity and flexibility from a smaller footprint, for example.
A request for additional funding is one of a number of measures set out by the FEA and comes in response to Boris Johnson’s address to the nation on Sunday night in which he earmarked July 4 as a possible restart date for some parts of the hospitality industry.
Keith Warren, chief executive of the FEA, said: “Obviously FEA supports the government’s commitment to controlling CV-19. Having said that, July is a long way away and, frankly, there are no guarantees that much will happen once we get there.
“From FEA’s point of view, the critical thing is that the equipment supply chain gets the same support as the hospitality industry. There are 10,000 workers in the foodservice equipment supply chain, who support the three million plus workers in hospitality.
“Without the equipment supply chain, the foodservice industry can’t function. So government needs to ensure manufacturers, dealers, consultants, designers and service supply companies are still around when lockdown is lifted for foodservice operators.”
In order to ensure that, Mr Warren said the industry needs alignment in terms of business rates, staff furloughing and repeal of the apprenticeship levy, as well as investment to ensure innovation can flourish.
“We believe the government should also supply financial aid to support continued R&D, so that manufacturers can develop the equipment that the ‘new normal’ will need – such as cooking appliances that can produce more menu items from a smaller footprint, in order to aid social distancing in the kitchen area.”