Food businesses seek clarity over blackout support

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Food industry representatives voiced concerns over Government support during the energy crisis
Food industry representatives voiced concerns over Government support during the energy crisis

Related tags Energy

Advanced warning must be given in the event of blackouts to safeguard the provision of food and drink, members of the food and drink industry told MPs.

Representatives from across the food and drink manufacturing sector met with MPs to discuss the effect of the energy crisis on their businesses.

Fears over the supply of energy followed warnings from National Grid that blackouts could take place between 4pm and 7pm on weekdays during ‘really, really cold days’ in January and February if gas imports are reduced.

Planned interventions

The Food and Drink Supply Chain All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) – chaired by Sharon Hodgson MP – called for details of energy supply to be communicated by Government and tailored, planned interventions to manage the situation and to mitigate the worst impacts of the energy crisis.

Speaking at yesterday’s (19 October) meeting, director general of the British Soft Drinks Association Gavin Partington said Government should takes steps to reinforce the situation during Covid, “where the sector is granted special access to energy to maintain supplies”.

MPs also heard that redundancies, business closures and a sharp decline in investment were likely to follow should businesses within the food supply chain miss out on energy support after March.

Support for businesses

It comes as new Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt announced that the Government’s energy relief scheme will support businesses for just six months before means testing is introduced.   

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, added: “Energy used to be 5% of overheads of hospitality businesses, by July it was 10% and by the end of the year it is forecast to be 15%. We will need to see the extension of the energy support beyond six months.”

The Food and Drink Supply Chain APPG was set up earlier this year to explore the impact the current energy crisis is having on the food and drink supply chain.

It will also examine how this could potentially impact consumers and businesses across the UK and what steps need to be taken in the Chancellor’s next fiscal event, and after the government’s six month support package expires.

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