Defra Minister George Eustice has paid tribute to the members of the Federation of Wholesale Distributors (fWD) for their contribution to the security of the food supply chain and their support for small businesses.
Speaking at an enquiry by the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee into food security, Mr Eustice said: “We do a lot of work with the Federation of Wholesale Distributors and other major wholesalers to ensure that we have resilience in our supply chain for any short #8209;term shocks.” He said that food security was a priority across a range of policy areas and government departments.
Mr Eustice also praised the FWD’s work in this area when he launched a new report into the contribution of the food and drink wholesale distribution sector. “I would like to pay tribute to the work FWD does to support Defra through the Food Chain Emergency Group,” he told an audience of MPs, wholesaler and suppliers. “Distribution is an element of resilience in food security which is often overlooked – people think of food security problems as something that will happen over the next 50 years, but without your distribution network we would have a problem much more quickly than that, so the government welcomes the work you do on this.”
He added: “400,000 small businesses depend on what you do and it is vital that Government recognises that. You have seen five per cent growth in the last year, with a turnover of £30bn, and you support thousands of jobs in the supply chain.”
The report, The Whole Story: Wholesale Distribution, The High Street, Consumers and the National Economy, also reveals that FWD members support 540,000 jobs in retail customers and 330,000 in foodservice operations, as well as 123,000 upstream in the supply chain. They also contribute around £460m in taxation to the Exchequer every year.
FWD chief executive James Bielby said: “We value our close relationship with Defra and welcome the Minister’s comments on the contribution of wholesalers to the economy and to the security of food supply. FWD is working with Defra on a number of issues which threaten food distribution, including the current concern over falling numbers of qualified delivery drivers, fuel prices and availability, potential industrial action and winter weather.”
The Whole Story: Wholesale Distribution, The High Street, Consumers and the National Economy can be downloaded here: http://www.fwd.co.uk/FWD-Resource-File.asp?id=142