Covid-19 has had a sudden and massive impact on nearly all food and drink businesses and supply chains, whatever their size.
Research has shown the size and nature of the impact:
- Total sales of food and drink (all channels) falling £190m (27%);
- Purchase patterns changing hugely, with grocery sales up £38m (10.7%) but total spend on food and drink is around 20% lower than normal due to the service sector almost closing completely.
- Shopping patterns have changed UK wide with people prioritising on-line channels and convenience stores (up 43% and 40% respectively).
The immediate priority is to steer and support the sector through the unfolding impact of Covid-19 so businesses and supply chain networks survive and maintain the sector’s world renowned reputation and success.
In partnership with Food and Drink Wales, a series of priority areas to support the sector have been published today, including:
- Monitoring market intelligence, data and trends to anticipate change and position the sector;
- Providing practical business advice essential to survival;
- Providing advice and support to develop online sales channels;
- Targeted investment in people and technology to build business resilience; and
- Maintaining a global trade presence via virtual engagement and at our key event, Blas Cymru in 2021.
The actions published today will be the joint short term focus and will target support for the sector over the coming months until next summer. They will be a bridge between the current strategy, Towards Sustainable Growth which completes in 2020 and the new strategy which is currently in development.
Minister for Environment, Energy & Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, said:
The food and drink industry in Wales has played a key role in keeping the nation fed during this unprecedented time, and I would like to express my thanks to all of those who have worked tirelessly to maintain supply chains.
We must now look towards the future, and the actions announced today are designed to support the industry where disruption due to the pandemic has occurred and move to recovery.
We must stabilise the sector as quickly as possible whilst also looking longer term to rebuild for the future. By working together, we can ensure we maintain the success of Wales’ globally renowned food and drink sector.
Chair of the Food & Drink Wales Industry Board, Andy Richardson, said:
The Coronavirus crisis caught everyone by surprise when it emerged as a pandemic in early 2020. Sadly the food and drink industry has not been immune to the effects of the crisis but this aside, our primary thoughts go out to those who have lost their lives or those who have lost family, friends and colleagues at this time.
Whilst some Welsh Food and Drink businesses have flourished during the crisis, many more have and continue to be affected significantly. Our pledge to all Welsh food and drink business is to continue to fight for our industry and deliver a strategy and tactical plan which will help get Welsh food and drink back on its feet following the crisis and continue our upward trajectory of growth, employment and global influence.
‘Towards Sustainable Growth’ was published in 2014 and will complete this year. At the start of 2020 Towards Sustainable Growth had exceeded its top target for the food and farming priority sector to achieve £7 billion of sales by 2020 compared to actual sales of £7.473 billion.