In an open letter to the customers of its members, the organisation asked that any Government support they received from the £3bn of grants transferred to local authorities be passed up the supply chain.
Chairman Nigel Broadhurst and chief executive Richard Harrow urged it was vital that manufacturers and wholesalers received some of this liquidity if they were to survive the coronavirus crisis.
“We would therefore ask any business that receives funds from Government to use some of it to pay suppliers for the goods that have already been supplied,” read the letter.
“It is vital the frozen food industry retains businesses that it is built upon, so that as we come out of this crisis, we have the infrastructure to help kick-start the economy.”
The BFFF letter acknowledged its members had been struggling to meet demand, having to operate at more than 100% capacity to meet the significant sales increases driven by consumers stocking up freezers during the lockdown.
However, frozen food firms selling into the out-of-home market had seen their businesses disappear before their eyes with the closure of pubs, clubs, restaurants and gyms.
Concerns surrounding the future of suppliers to the foodservice industry have been echoed in all corners of the food and drink sector.
Collapse of the foodservice industry
Federation of Small Businesses national chairman Mike Cherry said start-ups and small enterprises were struggling to cope with the collapse of the foodservice industry and the cancellation of all face-to-face events.
In response to these challenges, many BFFF companies have had to extend their debts to pay suppliers to ensure they could supply the market again when the lockdown is lifted.
“Over the course of the last few weeks the food production and supply chain has demonstrated innovation, fortitude and resilience in the face of the Covid‐19 crisis,” said Broadhurst and Harrow.
“In many cases this has been about companies and people going to extraordinary lengths to make things happen.”
Meanwhile, the impact of the coronavirus on the dairy industry has prompted calls for immediate help for farmer suppliers in the face of a “national catastrophe”, as some dairy farmers were forced to dispose of milk due to the crisis.
The meat industry has also been wrestling with problems surrounding carcase balance, as demand for cheaper products such as mince has soared, while premium cuts previously sold by restaurants have gone unused.