Feeding the Covid recovery

The government has published Our plan to rebuild: the UK government’s covid-19 recovery strategy. The document is intended to provide details about the government’s proposed plan to ease the lockdown and rebuild the economy and society as we get through the worst of the pandemic.

Now, the Food and Drink Sector Council has launched its Covid-19 Recovery Plan, outlining six key areas that will be central to restart all sectors of the food industry, protect food industry employees and serve the changing needs of the public.

One message has been made clear: there is no quick return to ‘normality’, there are no easy answers.

A plan at this point, will inevitably be adapted and changed, depending on how this first easing of the restrictions impacts on the number of cases and as understanding of the virus develops although accelerating at a rapid pace.

Any plan will need to show that while corona-induced uncertainty remains, the food and beverage sectors will do what is required to get their economies motoring again.

Whatever the route forward, there is much to consider – particularly meeting the required guidelines. Getting this wrong could spell disaster, with the potential for large penalties.

Diversification will be on the cards for many – mirroring the trend we have seen across other industries, pivoting services and products for the ‘new normal’.

Suppliers who saw prices collapse with the closure of plants may be thinking about different routes to market, and whether disused facilities and old buildings can be improved to facilitate the above.

Any recovery plan must place much greater resilience into the economy. The strategy needs to leave us far better placed to meet likely future challenges.

That will almost certainly mean addressing the things that make the industry vulnerable in the face of sudden disruptions.

The response of food businesses has been absolutely fundamental to the country’s ability to weather this crisis. Without their response, the human cost and, indeed, the economic cost would have been incalculably higher. Any resilience plan must include much greater support for these crucial pillars than has existed before.

One key question is also: how will all this be implemented? What practical steps will each business need to take, to ensure they can resume their activities not only in compliance with the government’s guidance but also safely?

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