Report into the impact of the Covid-19 impact on the local food sector of the South West

Taste of the West has issued an interim report into the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on the region’s local food industry. The report highlights the role that the sector has played in the overall food offer, particularly to the visitor economy and tourism sector. Our report highlights:

  • 50 - 90% drop overall in food sales for small manufacturers since the onset of the outbreak in March. This has devastated the sector with obvious threats to jobs in the region as a result.
  • A very high level of innovation throughout the sector providing additional home delivery slots in support of the supermarket’s struggle to maintain a resilient home delivery system for the region’s consumers.
  • Government support so far has been welcomed, however there are too many gaps in the support, or where individual businesses (being small) are falling down between the various funding packages and not able to access them.
  • The report highlights the very strong link between the region’s food sector and the tourism sector – often not only providing a point of difference in the food offer to those tourism businesses but also contributing toe specific food based events like food festivals, fairs or farmers markets – all of which have been cancelled. The report calls on Government to recognise the food sector on the same basis as the tourism sector when it comes to consider further support measures.
  • The report provides an analysis of the likelihood of businesses getting through the next 9 months and concludes that it is difficult to see how the region’s local food sector, including all manufacturers as well as cafes, pubs and restaurants will cope with a 2020 summer of ‘delicate’ trading under an ‘easing’ of restrictions, coupled with an autumn trying to play catch up in a still ‘nervous’ marketplace before a naturally quieter winter period. Therefore, it is likely that we are looking towards the spring of 2021 before profitable trading can resume on anything like a ‘normal’ basis.
  • The report calls on Government to continue to support all food businesses from manufacturers to cafes owners, pub and restaurant owners through the current difficulties of lockdown but as restrictions are slowly lifted, the Government must also ‘slowly’ ease the current support measures  in a timely manner as well and look at what novel recovery support grants might be developed to sustain businesses through what is going to be a difficult 9 months ahead.

Click here to read a full copy of our report and if you'd like to get in touch, please contact Taste of the West on 01404 822012 or email enquiries@tasteofthewest.co.uk.