The Home Office has classified Bunzl as a ‘critical supplier' and each division, including Tri-Star, WK Thomas and London Bio Packaging (LBP), has a crucial role to play – supplying the NHS, schools and home delivery businesses with safe, secure and hygienic food packaging. Tri-Star managing director Alex Noake explains:
"At Tri-Star, we are about to fulfil a major order for much-needed disposable cutlery packs for the NHS in just one week. It's great that we can be responsive and customers are pleased that they are taking delivery of UK-made products.
"Some product lines are in more demand than others and some market sectors have swapped around. For instance, cutlery and foodservice packs that used to go to the airline industry are now going into the healthcare sector.
"It's fascinating watching the agenda change so fast. Suddenly disposable single-use plastic is in demand again and with a focus on hygiene, there is an expectation for food to be wrapped and even double-wrapped.
"Sustainability issues have quite naturally lost their top slot on the agenda, in favour of durability, but we are not going to let the importance of environmental sustainability become lost through this crisis. Indeed, with more packaging going into people's homes, our messages around recycling and home-compostables will continue.
"Perhaps we could say that the agenda has shifted from sustainability to endurance.
"We are not going to let the importance of environmental sustainability become lost through this crisis"
"Through this developing situation we should take a moment to say how impressed we've been with the people in the business. They're working harder than ever and are proud to part of something that is making a genuinely positive contribution.
"We've got a sales force that isn't on the road and isn't visiting customers, so they are all putting in extra effort to stay in touch with our customers to let them know that we are here to help – to help them come out of the other side of this situation. We're sending them ideas on how they can add value in their business when it gets back to normal. We've kicked into consultancy mode.
"As a result of coronavirus, everyone is going to become increasingly hygiene-aware. People will remember Covid-19 for years. They will be precious about it and that's going to drive increased use of chemicals, hand sanitisers, and cloths. This is the opportunity to develop niche ranges to fit in with eco-brands – with eco-hand sanitisers, eco-cloths and all manner of eco-products.
"What we're saying to our customers is ‘put us in your business continuity plan', because we are a strong, secure business and we have the stock holding and manufacturing flexibility to supply all your packaging needs, and more."