Coronavirus: supply chain action urged on frozen food stock

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Richard Harrow, chief executive of BFFF has called for the supply chain to work together
Richard Harrow, chief executive of BFFF has called for the supply chain to work together

Related tags: coronavirus

The British Frozen Food Federation (BFFF) is urging food suppliers to foodservice firms to work together to manage frozen stock near the end of its shelf-life as result of COVID-19 stockpiling.

It has produced a guide advising a range of actions.  These include extending the 'best before' date; continuing to accept product beyond the 'best before' date; agreeing a price reduction with costs shared fairly between parties; disposing food through redistribution to organisations such as charities. 

The call comes as the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) announced it was working to convince the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to support extending chilled red meat shelf-life guidance beyond the ten-day rule​. 

In June, wholesalers called for food manufacturers and the Government to help move ambient and frozen stock out of their warehouses​ as the foodservice sector prepared to reopen on 4 July.

Range of options

The BFFF is calling for all options to be considered, as the processes manufacturers, suppliers and wholesalers commonly use to agree shelf-life extensions may be impractical given the amount of frozen food in storage. 

The new guidance includes detailed advice on shelf-life extension and labelling and redistribution. It was produced in collaboration with the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), Primary Authority and charity WRAP. It is backed by trade organisations including the BFFF, the Food and Drink Federation, the Federation of Wholesale Distributors, UK Hospitality and the Provision Trade Federation.

Richard Harrow, chief executive, BFFF, said until the hospitality sector returned to normal, all operators would face uncertainty about when stock would be called upon and which products would be required.

“Preventing food waste is a key priority for the food and drink sector,” ​he said. 

Communication

“Effective communication and greater collaboration across the supply chain will be vital in the months ahead to ensure the safe and appropriate use of frozen food currently held in storage and to reduce unnecessary waste.

“This new guidance is designed to help businesses facing unprecedented challenges as a result of the pandemic, mitigate severe losses without compromising consumer safety while also maintaining the already excellent levels of traceability and transparency across the supply chain.”

DEFRA food minister Victoria Prentis said: “Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the BFFF and all its members have acted as a united front – working innovatively to keep the supply chain moving and keep our country fed and I thank them for their hard work and commitment.

“Now, as restrictions continue to ease, we all need to work together to do all we can to ensure good, nutritious food does not go to waste.  All food that is safe and suitable to eat should be made available for sale or redistributed. We in government are firmly committed to supporting this effort alongside industry.”

Ben Elliot, food surplus and waste prevention champion at DEFRA, said: “I recently wrote to food businesses urging them to work together to keep our supply chain moving as lockdown eases, so it is great to see the BFFF and all its members working quickly to do just that.

“We all have a role to play in what must be a nationwide effort, and this guidance should go a long way to help businesses play their part.”

 

Related topics: COVID-19

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