Foodservice steps up to coronavirus challenge

Businesses have announced a raft of new measures as the food sector recalibrates to cope with the fallout from the spread of coronavirus.

Across the country, restaurants are switching to delivery services of pre-prepared meals to cook at home after the government said that planning rules will be relaxed so that pubs and restaurants can operate as takeaways.

Food-to-go brands, meanwhile, are partnering with the likes of Deliveroo and Uber Eats to offer doorstep deliveries after taking the decision to prevent people from eating in stores.

Rather than retreat into a state of self-preservation and introspection, many businesses are stepping up their efforts to support local communities and key workers.

A number of high street brands are giving free or discounted hot drinks and food to NHS workers and sending free deliveries to local NHS hospitals.

Many are partnering with charities to make sure food doesn’t go to waste and say they are working on ways to support elderly people isolated in their homes.

Some alcohol producers have switched to producing hand sanitiser to alleviate pressure on supply.

Senior executives at some food and drink businesses, meanwhile, are taking pay cuts while others have set up funds to be put towards the wages of bar and waiting staff.

The defiant response came as UKHospitality called on the government to announce an employment support plan to help protect livelihoods and the 1 million-plus jobs now at risk in UK pubs, restaurants, bars, hotels and leisure attractions.

CEO Kate Nicholls said that while the package of support measures announced earlier this week by the Chancellor represented significant help that will give many companies a lifeline, “the massive issue remains people and preservation of jobs”.

UKHospitality estimates the hospitality industry has already shorn between 200,000 and 250,000 jobs, with the majority of these cuts coming in the past few days.

Look out for Footprint Premium on Monday for a further update on how coronavirus is impacting the foodservice sector.

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