Inquiry on food supply during the Coronavirus pandemic launched
3 April 2020
The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee launches an inquiry into food supply during the Coronavirus pandemic, including access to healthy food during periods of self-isolation, and how disruptions in the food supply chain should be managed.
The Committee will initially identify current problems and strategies for mitigating potential risks, and is seeking written evidence on the following questions, with an initial deadline of Friday 1 May:
- Have the measures announced by the Government to mitigate the disruptions to the food supply chain caused by the pandemic been proportionate, effective and timely?
- Are the Government and food industry doing enough to support people to access sufficient healthy food; and are any groups not having their needs met? If not, what further steps should the Government and food industry take?
- What further impacts could the current pandemic have on the food supply chain, or individual elements of it, in the short to medium-term and what steps do industry, consumers and the Government need to take to mitigate them?
- How effectively has the Government worked with businesses and NGOs to share information on disruptions to the supply chain and other problems, and to develop and implement solutions? How effectively have these actions been communicated to the public?
On Tuesday 24th March, the Committee held a teleconference with George Eustice, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
The purpose of the discussion was to investigate the Government's preparation for, and initial response to, issues such as panic-buying in supermarkets and potential labour shortages in key areas. The Committee has today published the summary of the conversation.
Chair of the EFRA Committee, Neil Parish MP, said:
"The Coronavirus pandemic has shown us the importance of resilience in our food supply chains. Of equal importance is good communication with the public; assuring them that food will continue to be available. We have seen empty shelves at local supermarkets, and many of our constituents remain anxious about extended periods of self-isolation during which buying food could be difficult.
"Measures have been taken to deal with the impacts of panic-buying, but there are still questions that must be answered urgently. The right strategies are needed to ensure the supply chain keeps moving, from domestic farming and food imports to the delivery of food to those who need it the most. The impact of the pandemic on the workers who keep us fed, from the field through factories to the checkout and doorstep delivery, has to be managed. We must ensure that everyone has access to enough healthy food, and crucially that those self-isolating, or struggling to afford food, are not forgotten.”