Coronavirus: Food manufacturers increase production by up to 50%

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

George Eustice said that food manufacturers were used to dealing with spikes in demand.
George Eustice said that food manufacturers were used to dealing with spikes in demand.

Related tags: coronavirus

Panic buying sparked by the coronavirus has prompted food manufacturers to boost production by up to 50%.

The news was revealed by Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs secretary George Eustice at a press conference on 21 March. 

“The food supply chain is used to dealing with spikes in demand not least every Christmas.  There is a surge in demand and in the last three weeks they have seen surges similar to that,”​he said. 

“Food manufacturers have responded by increasing their production by up to 50%.” 

He revealed that there had been a “significant switch” ​in the past three weeks from purchasing food from the foodservice sector to buying it from supermarkets. 

“We estimate in the past three weeks around £1bn worth of additional food has been put into households that has not yet been consumed,” ​he said. 

Eustice revealed that the Government was helping to facilitate discussions between retailers and the foodservice sector.

“… The decision to close pubs and restaurants means there is surplus delivery capacity and staff with expertise in food who could be redeployed from those companies to the retail sector,” ​he said. 

The Government identified food supply chain workers as key workers last week along with members of the NHS and transport staff. 

Eustice said he believed there would be “sufficient resilience” ​of labour, especially as many are recruiting staff that have been “laid off” ​from other establishments in the foodservice sector. 

From May onwards there would be an increase in harvest production, he said 

“Some labour for agriculture moves around from different sectors, so there is already a lot of staff working in fields in Lincolnshire, for instance in the Winter vegetable industry and places like Cornwall,”​he said.  

“We anticipate we will be able to provide the labour necessary that we can continue that harvest.” 

 

Related topics: Supply Chain, COVID-19

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