NEWS & INSIGHT FROM THE FPA
REUSABLES & THE VIRUS
Attendees at our Seminar in January will recall a discussion about reusable use and viruses. One, Norovirus, was quoted and whilst not the one we have now, we were certainly ahead of the curve on this issue. Even prior to lockdown retailers had introduced a policy of not serving food and drink in reusable containers as coronavirus spread.
We have discussed the issue with a number of food hygiene experts who are indicating that reintroducing reusables represents a risk to serving staff. Professor Manning, who addressed our seminar, is raising the need for clear guidance on the use of reusables with the Food Standards Agency. This will include changing HACCP procedures in the light of the pandemic, noting for any future pandemic each virus is different so will require different procedures and guidance. Mention has been made of the public sterilising their containers but we’re informed that doesn’t guarantee they will be sterile by the time they are brought into retail premises. While elements of guidance exist, the strands need to be brought together in a clearly written guidance note. As we’ve always argued, to enable reusables to be used safely, protocols are needed to protect and reassure retailers and consumers, and the time between now and the (albeit partial) reopening of the hospitality sector should be used to produce such protocols
More than 40 members tuned in to Thursday afternoon’s webinar for the latest updates from Chairman Mark Pawsey, Vice Chairman Mark Byrne and Executive Director Martin Kersh. A summary of the most recent FPA Business Impact Survey results was given by Martin (see below) and a potential kitemark or certification was discussed – also see below.
Chairman Mark Pawsey explained the thinking behind Parliament going back on 2 June as it is felt that MPs can’t expect schools and businesses to go back if they don’t. The focus is currently on working tremendously hard to find ways to make sure most operations can reopen while keeping everyone safe. Mark also advised members to write to their MP to summarise the pressures on their business and their customers’ business and to lobby for a reopening of the hospitality sector to get people, young people in particular, back on their feet as soon as possible.
If you missed the webinar, you can catch up here.
COVID-19 SAFETY KITEMARK
The possibility of a Covid-19 safety kitemark for hotels and retailers has been raised by The Caterer, The Grocer and others, read here.
During the webinar we raised whether an equivalent could be implemented for packaging. The discussion revealed a kitemark for packaging itself is not felt to be of value as it is already tested for food safety and other aspects, but a kitemark confirming procedures are fully in place regarding staff safety, the use of PPE and required hygiene practices during the production, storage and distribution of packaging would be of help to operators. It was felt the procedure would be best managed as part of BRC accreditation and/or Sedex Global who have already issued a questionnaire. We believe a corporate kitemark will help in giving reassurance to operators and ultimately to their customers.
A survey of 2,200 adults published in the Financial Times showed just over 22% would feel comfortable visiting a restaurant in the next month, and for more than 20% it will be six months before they feel confident – the kitemark could help reassure consumers.
FPA CORONAVIRUS IMPACT SURVEY
Thanks to all members who responded to the latest members’ coronavirus impact survey. It makes for difficult reading with 92% of members selling less than pre-pandemic and 90% having furloughed at least some of their employees.
Almost half of members believe they will survive, but only with a much reduced business and a fifth of members expect to survive but only with increased borrowings. A new question was added to assess the reaction to the Prime Minister’s statement on plans to ease lockdown. 44% of members feel the 3rd quarter will bring an increase in packaging demand and 26% anticipate some improvement in the payment of invoices, which is currently a problem for over 80% of members.
There is no doubt there is much stock in warehouses and already with customers.
With the likelihood of social distancing requirements, reduced public confidence and income, and a reduction in office workers commuting to city centres, it is clearly going to be a long time before it will be business as usual. It is vital the hospitality supply chain is included in all financial measures to support the hospitality sector.
DEPOSIT RETURN SCHEME UPDATE
The FPA attended the Defra weekly stakeholder meeting, which includes the major drinks companies. The key subject was return points for used containers. We have asked for further details on vending particularly for machines in smaller remote factories and offices, the specific inclusion of food hygiene risks as a reason for not accepting used containers and details of how containers included as part of a meal delivery will be treated.
Delivery companies have a responsibility for the recovery of the packaging.
We also asked Defra to ensure DRS legislation is written to provide appropriate levels of public and employee protection during a pandemic.
MEMBERS CONTINUE GOOD WORK
Huhtamaki has announced a €900 000 project with WasteAid as part of its global €3million programme to support sustainability initiatives with local impact, implemented to celebrate its 100 year anniversary. The project will fund community-level circular economy innovation in Vietnam, India and South Africa for a two-year period. The FPA is delighted that Huhtamaki has chosen to support its nominated charity in this way. Read more here.
Cromwell Polythene’s manufacturing and recycling division, Cromwell Plastics Recycling, has donated 500 kilos of blue polythene film to a fundraising partnership of volunteers and marine businesses making PPE for the NHS. The film will be made into approximately 5,000 disposable plastic gowns for Southampton General Hospital. Read more here.
Amipak is supporting Hospitality for Heroes, a new community interest company that is providing free and healthy dishes to NHS frontline workers.
Essity is featuring on Gregg Wallace’s BBC 2 Inside the Factory on Monday 25th May, looking at how the company has coped with unprecedented demand for loo roll during the coronavirus pandemic. The programme has been put together in recent weeks, observing social distancing requirements, with Gregg doing the interviews from home. The BBC sent special recording equipment to the factory and Essity employees filmed additional footage around the site on behalf of the BBC.
The points-based immigration bill was passed by the House of Commons on Monday night, but with strong opposition from the hospitality sector. The new employment criteria means that sponsored employees will need to meet 70 points in a system that prioritises high salaries and qualifications, with the Home Office estimating that 70% of the UK’s current EU workforce would not meet the new requirements. More at The Caterer here.
Martin took part in a Food and Drink Federation round table earlier this week. Of special interest to hospitality is the Shortage Occupation List which would reduce the salary requirement for named occupations by 20% – clearly needed to enable chefs to work here.
This has also been welcomed by the hospitality sector – the Bill prevents statutory rent demands and winding up orders on commercial premises affected by COVID-19 until 30 June.
The Chancellor warned this week that the country is facing a recession “like no other”. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) warned the pandemic could see the economy contract by a record 35% by June. He said: “The OBR figures suggest that the scale of what the UK is facing will have serious implications for our economy in common with other countries.” More from the BBC here.
ELECTRICITY CONTRACTS SURCHARGE
We have received a copy of a letter regarding Npower and its intention to issue invoices for unused electricity because, with the reduction in demand by businesses, the market and hence price for unused energy, has fallen. This is likely to apply to all utilities contracted for a year. This is within bulk-buying supplier conditions but is nonetheless cruel when the reason for the fall in utility demand is a market collapse that could never have been foreseen. We would be grateful if members could advise if they have received similar notifications. These are being gathered by an FDF subgroup so that a request to government to intervene can be made.
PROPOSED QUARANTINE FROM OVERSEAS
Details on the proposed 14 Day UK Arrivals Quarantine Procedure were announced on Friday. . There has been a strong business lobby for the procedures not to be applied to overseas machinery service and installation engineers and technical personnel.
TRADE CREDIT INSURANCE
Members have asked for an update on government support for trade credit insurance. Dick Searle, CEO of the Packaging Federation advises negotiations are still taking place with the Treasury and the Bank of England and Association of British Insurers.
CORONAVIRUS RELATED NEWS
Retail Gazette asks if sustainability is falling off retailer’s agendas during the pandemic. Read here.
The Caterer reports that Paper Round and Vegware have collaborated to launch a new composting partnership offering a sustainable waste management solution for businesses in London, Brighton, and Sussex. Read here.
Food Navigator Europe reports that much plastic recycling labelling is ‘confusing and inconsistent’, according to a global assessment of recycling and sustainability labelling. The UN Environment Programme and Consumers International have set out five global recommendations for change. Read here.
Circular Online reports that the WRAP ‘FLAWLESS’ food waste reduction partnership project has been awarded £677,000 in scale-up funding by the Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals 2030 (P4G) initiative. Read here.