People are our most vital asset. Therefore, the safety, health and wellbeing of our key workers is our priority. The rapid spread of COVID-19 has heightened the importance of protecting our people at work more than ever. This includes implementing appropriate social distancing measures according to Government guidelines in order to ensure high standards from farm to fork, across the supply chain.
Where the production environment makes it impossible to observe the 2 metre distancing requirement as set out by Government, our member businesses have adapted quickly to ensure that key workers are protected in the workplace. From staggering shift working to using screens in factories, the sector is ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our people at all times.
Like in other key sectors, continued availability of Personal Protective Equipment remains a concern for our member businesses, given its surge in demand across the country. However, many people remain unaware that food production roles have always required access to PPE, even before the outbreak, to carry out their work. PPE has always been a requirement of food producers in order to ensure high standards from farm to fork. Therefore, access to PPE must be an integral part of the Government’s plans as it looks to prioritise access to supplies to ensure the nation’s health and wellbeing.
The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the importance of key workers in our industry, of which 60% of the permanent workforce is made up of EU nationals. These key workers help put food on every table in Britain. Looking ahead, it is necessary that Government ensures that food producers have continued access to key workers, including non-UK labour, so that they can continue to feed the nation. Without them, we run the risk of disrupting the food supply chain and impacting production, hence, impacting the affordability and accessibility of food for people in the UK.