With supermarket sales rising 20.6% across March and the Recycling Association warning of a national shortage of cardboard, the food industry could be faced with having to supply more products while battling a significantly reduced pool of packaging materials.
As production increases to meet demand, food producers must consider the impact of a potential shortage of packaging. Any changes made to packaging to mitigate shortages will need to be assessed, so as not to compromise the product’s integrity.
If and when changes do need to be made, risk assessments will be necessary to ensure food safety is maintained. While there is no need to inform authorities of any changes to packaging, Lloyd’s Register stressed the importance of these risk assessments.
Kimberly Carey Coffin, global technical director – supply chain assurance at Lloyd’s Register, commented: “It’s important for manufacturers to ensure thorough review and assessment of any changes they make to production processes, including raw material inputs, during this unprecedented time.
“If alternative packaging is required, we urge manufacturers to understand any new contamination risk presented by the change, as well as controls modified to mitigate and ensure all changes are communicated to all internal and external stakeholders.”
Lloyds Register also warned manufacturers to keep a close eye on supplies of hygiene and sanitation items – particularly appropriate PPE.
With the industry reliant on items such as face masks, hair covers and protective suits to keep their facilities compliant, the current shortage of such products due to the ongoing pandemic will mean alternatives are required for the food industry.
Sanitation products shortage
The shortage of PPE and sanitation products has been widely reported, said Coffin, and manufacturers should now start to think about alternatives – if they haven’t already.
“If changes are made, personal hygiene and contamination risk should be considered, while any updated processes must also be clearly communicated with all team members,” she added.
“Ensuring employees understand the reasons and impact of the changes to their work practices and hygiene protocols is important, and managers must lead by example.”
Meanwhile, a probe into the coronavirus’ impact on food supply has been launched by the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) committee.
The inquiry will tackle how the supply chain disruption caused by the crisis should be managed and consumers’ level of access to healthy food during self-isolation.