The manufacturer – known for its Express Cuisine food-to-go brand – said the drop had been close to 70%, with other producers it worked with sharing similar stories, according to managing director Sohel Patel.
He told Food Manufacture that some manufacturers had stopped deliveries, due to staff fears of interacting with others and going to their customers’ sites.
Patel’s comments followed a report from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs that claimed panic-buying had prompted food manufacturers to boost production by up to 50%.
‘Rationalising the range’
“We have looked at ways of rationalising the range, consolidating and reducing delivery days,” said Patel. “We are still doing this and every day is a changing situation – sometimes the theory and practicality of chopping and changing are two different things.”
The business has been forced to reduce staff numbers in reaction to the strain that the coronavirus has caused.
“With the decrease [in production and sales], everything becomes relative, so fewer drivers doing deliveries, fewer production workers, no need for as many office staff,” he continued. “To keep a fair system, I have tried to implement a rota where possible.”
Sohel said it was very difficult at the moment to see if his business would come out of the other side of the UK’s coronavirus lock-down unscathed, but the Government’s recently announced support package for businesses pushed back any fears of shutting down completely.
“Certainly the package announced by the Chancellor was a headlining deal for business and employees, it put my mind at ease,” he added. “The challenge now is how fast the Government and banks can implement the system promised and how quickly this transpires to businesses.”
Meanwhile, the coronavirus has prompted the food industry to unite in efforts to ensure essential services are maintained to keep consumers fed.