Supermarkets: Coronavirus

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 30th March 2020.

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Photo of Laura Farris Laura Farris Conservative, Newbury

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will publish guidance to supermarkets on maintaining supplies of essential items.

Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Government has well-established ways of working with the food industry during disruption to supply situations. Our retailers already have highly-resilient supply chains and they are working around the clock to ensure people have the food and products they need. Industry is adapting quickly to any changes in demands, and food supply into and across the UK is resilient.

The Secretary of State is holding regular conversations with industry, including the British Retail Consortium and supermarket Chief Executives, to discuss any additional support the Government can provide. To help supermarkets respond to this unprecedented demand we have already introduced new measures to keep food supply flowing. We have issued guidance to local authorities to allow extended delivery hours to supermarkets so that shelves can be filled up quicker, and we have implemented extensions to drivers’ hours. We are also temporarily relaxing certain elements of competition law to ensure retailers are able to collaborate effectively in the national interest.

We fully recognise the additional pressures on our food supply chain as a result of recent events. The UK’s major supermarkets have last weekend issued a statement to encourage everyone to shop as they normally would, and pull together to support those staying at home.

We will continue to work closely with the industry over the coming days and months.

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