The Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD) is asking the government to extend its new and existing support measures for the hospitality sector to the wholesale distributors who supply it.
Responding to the new measures announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak this afternoon, FWD chief executive James Bielby, said: "We welcome the measures announced today, such as the subsidy to support those in part-time work and the VAT cut extension, but they still fall short of the support required for the wholesale sector, which is critical to the food supply chain, public service infrastructure and the UK economy.
"Without business rates relief the sector faces widespread redundancies, which will have disastrous knock-on effects for the entire hospitality sector and food supply in the UK."
A statement from the FWD adds: "While hospitality businesses have benefited from grants, business rates holidays and the £500m investment of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, the wholesalers who supply them have had no sector-specific aid despite being almost completely closed during the national lockdown. Now, as new restrictions are introduced and the furlough scheme comes to an end, the wholesalers say that food supply to caterers is at breaking point."
The FWD has said that in some cases critical contracts to supply care homes, hospitals and schools are under threat if its members are unable to continue trading.
Bielby, added: "Further restrictions on pubs and restaurants will lead to closures if they can't break even, and that will put intense pressure on the wholesalers who supply them, many of whom have barely recovered from the initial three-month lockdown.
"It's astonishing that the major supermarkets that are this week seeing stock flying off their shelves have been given Business Rates relief, while the distributors who are working miracles to keep pubs, restaurants, workplaces and leisure facilities supplied have had nothing.
"It's essential that government offers those wholesalers direct support so they can ensure continuity of food supply to vital public sector and care home customers."