December 3, 2020

Trade associations call for the continuation of critical trade during Covid-19 pandemic

Trade associations from across the UK food and drink supply chain, led by Ian Wright CBE, Chief Executive of the Food & Drink Federation (FDF) have come together to publish a letter, calling on all Governments to ensure the continuation of critical imports and exports of food and drink at this critical time.

It reads:

‘Covid-19 is the biggest threat this country has faced in decades, and all over the world we are seeing its devastating impact. It is therefore not surprising that this creates huge challenges for the United Kingdom. Our food and farming industries are working hand-in-hand with departments across the Government on a daily basis to ensure that consumers have continued confidence that there will be adequate supplies of food and drink.

‘This global crisis highlights just how integral food and farming industries are to our country’s critical national infrastructure and Government has rightly acknowledged the crucial role played by the more than four million hidden heroes in every community that work across the UK’s essential farm-to-fork supply chain.

‘Now more than ever, it is critical that we keep imports and exports of food and drink flowing. Essential movements of ingredients and raw materials must continue so that we can supply consumers across the UK.

‘The continuation of trading through open markets will also be absolutely vital to help aid the global economic recovery and protect the economies of many supplying countries. We have seen some countries introduce trade restrictions that may have the unfortunate consequence of impeding the flow of goods between nations. While it is understandable that some may place temporary selective restrictions on exports where there is a direct threat posed to the ability of their communities to access affordable food and drink, it is incumbent on the UK and other developed nations to lead the way and reject moves towards protectionism.

UK food and drink is an international success story, exporting more than £23 billion of quality products each year. These exports are essential to ensure UK businesses have access to working capital that means production for the UK market is viable. They provide an outlet for outstanding British products all over the world. They allow movements of ingredients and raw materials to near neighbour countries for further processing that cannot be performed in the UK, with the goods returning to the UK where they will end up on shop shelves and in our restaurants.

‘Our industry cannot operate in isolation if we are to continue providing world-leading quality, choice and value for money. Our farmers rely on imported feed and need access to other markets to sell their products, especially where demand in the UK is insufficient. Our manufacturers rely on exports to grow their businesses and imports to complement their use of domestically produced ingredients and raw materials. Our restaurants and retailers need access to a full range of goods all year round to balance seasonality and meet consumer demand.

‘The UK food and drink industry calls on all Governments to ensure trade continues to flow freely and without restriction, so that together we can come through this incredibly difficult time stronger than ever.’

Yours sincerely,

Ian Wright CBE

Chief Executive

Food and Drink Federation (FDF)

Co-signed by:

Robert Sheasby, Chief Executive

Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC)

David Camp, Chief Executive

Association of Labour Providers (ALP)

Emma McClarkin, CEO

British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA)

Paul Rooke, Executive Director

British Coffee Association (BCA)

Walter Anzer MBE, Director General

British Food Importers & Distributors Association and the Vinegar Brewers Federation

Richard Harrow, Chief Executive

British Frozen Food Federation (BFFF)

Philip Law, Director General

British Plastics Federation (BPF)

Gavin Partington, Director General

British Soft Drinks Association (BSDA)

Declan O’Brien, Director General

British Specialist Nutrition Association (BSNA)

Parminder Kaur, Chair

Council for Responsible Nutrition UK (CRN UK)

Gordon Polson, Chief Executive

Federation of Bakers (FOB)

James Bielby, Chief Executive

Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD)

John Whitehead OBE, Director

Food and Drink Exporters Association (FDEA)

Pete Robertson, Director

Food and Drink Federation Cymru (FDF Cymru)

David Thomson, Chief Executive

Food and Drink Federation Scotland (FDF Scotland)

Andy Richardson, Chair

Food and Drink Wales Industry Board

Nigel Jenney, Chief Executive

Fresh Produce Consortium (FPC)

Graham Keen, Executive Director

Health Food Manufacturers’ Association (HFMA)

Katie Doherty, CEO

International Meat Trade Association (IMTA)

Michael Bell, Executive Director

Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association (NIFDA)

Dick Searle, Chief Executive

Packaging Federation (PF)

Michelle Riddalls, CEO

Proprietary Association of Great Britain (PAGB)

Karen Betts, Chief Executive

Scotch Whisky Association (SWA)

James Withers, Chief Executive

Scotland Food & Drink

Simon Cripps, Director

Seasoning and Spice Association (SSA)

Angela Bowden, Secretary General

Seed Crushers and Oil Producers Association (SCOPA)

Michael Bellingham, Chief Executive

Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA)

James Smith, Chairman

UK Flavour Association

Sharon Hall, Chief Executive

UK Tea and Infusions Association (UKTIA)

Kate Nicholls, CEO


Miles Beale, CEO

Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA)


For more information, please contact Meg Bevan, Corporate Affairs Executive, on 020 7836 2460, [email protected]

Notes for editors:

  1. The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) is the voice of the food and drink manufacturing industry – the UK’s largest manufacturing sector. For more information about FDF and the industry we represent visit:
  2. For statistics on the food and drink industry please visit: