Tonnes of food could go to waste after school & hospitality closures

  • Watch a report by Rachel Hepworth

Wholesale food suppliers say that they have been left with mountains of food that isunder risk of going to waste because their customer base has gone – with the closureof schools, pubs and restaurants.

Many big food suppliers were advised to stock up on products ahead of Brexit, but now they have been left with tonnes of perishable foods that they can not sell or give away.

The companies are asking the government for the same help that was given to pubs and restaurants, to prevent them from going under.

The Managing Director of Harvest Fine Foods in Hampshire has explained that his warehouse at Totton in Hampshire is full of food that they can not shift. The firm usually supplies schools, care homes, hotels and restaurants. However, during the pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns bulk buying has decreased drastically, and the firm’s takings are down.

Items such as catering-sized packs of salmon, pallets of eggs and large packs of clotted cream are not easy to sell to the average domestic customer.

The firm adapted as the pandemic first took hold by putting health food boxes together for low-income families; donating to food banks; and selling direct to the public, but the sales are not enough to make up for the large-scale loss of income.

Richard Strongman says the company needs more assistance to keep going. The furlough scheme has helped, but 20 staff have already had to be laid off.

James Bielby, the Chief Executive of the Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD), says that the third lockdown has put businesses in a very difficult position and that they will have to continue trading at a loss for now… amid dwindling reserves.

He says that a lot of the food can not be repurposed for food banks and charities, but where possible it is happening and will continue to happen.