Time for action
Well, the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) report couldn’t have been more clear.
The Government has let down the food and drink sectors over Covid-19 and Brexit.
Businesses have suffered a major impact on sales and forecasts with the resulting knock-on effect on their cash flow and budgets.
What’s more, the white paper concluded that seven out of ten businesses felt uncertain about the current state of the industry.
Twenty bodies supported the white paper; many were vocal in their condemnation. Food and drink businesses stepped up in the face of unprecedented demand and concern not seen on such a national scale since war times.
Their reward? Uncertainty, which has made forward planning difficult if not impossible. Economic woes aren’t the only issue. Frazer Durris, CEO at Businesswise Solutions, who helped the FDF with the white paper, said the sectors “desperately” need more support in the form of clarity from the Government.
“A number of the companies who spoke at our roundtables said they were holding back on investing in major sustainability projects until the picture becomes a bit clearer. This represents a big climate risk and one that can be avoided if the Government can provide more certainty to these businesses.”
The white paper shows that to food and drink businesses, Covid-19 is not merely a health-care crisis. It is also resulting in an economic and trust crisis. The same goes for Brexit. Although a deal isn’t yet in the bag the intensification in the negotiating process signals that both sides are now focussed on finding a way through the issues which still divide them.
Trust extends to businesses too. The coronavirus crisis and Brexit are forcing businesses of all sizes to replan and reposition. An ongoing challenge may lie in maintaining customer loyalty.
Business leaders must ensure they remain aware of customer sentiment during these difficult times. The Government could help itself by playing a vital role to play in considering the potential future impacts of any decisions made now, in terms of advising on risk, planning for different scenarios, and choosing its path forward.
Businesses want to prepare for the future as well and they will be at the forefront of building a post-Covid-19 world.
The capacity to overcome is here, but the Government should heed the words of the food and drink sectors and up its game.
- Rodney Jack, editor, Food & Drink Technology.
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