Coronavirus (COVID-19)
information for the food and
consumer goods industry

As the global outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to escalate, IGD is regularly reviewing
official UK Government guidance and closely monitoring global developments. This site is aimed
at the entire food and consumer goods supply chain, from retailers and manufacturers to
trade associations, and provides important information for you and your business on
Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Our position on Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Susan Barratt, CEO of IGD, said: “We all understand that this is an extremely worrying time for the British public, with events around
Coronavirus (COVID-19) unfolding rapidly. Our number-one priority, at IGD and as a whole industry, is to keep feeding the nation, ensuring that everyone – including the most vulnerable members of our community – has access to the food and goods they need at this very challenging time.

“Retailers and manufacturers are making enormous efforts to keep goods flowing through the supply chain and are well used to handling large increases in demand. IGD’s role at this critical time is to provide a forum to bring the industry together, engaging with retailers, manufacturers, government and other key stakeholders, as well as providing data and shopper insight, all with the aim of helping to support and inform decision-making.

“Coronavirus (COVID-19) is expected to continue impacting us all for many months, making collaboration over the coming weeks absolutely crucial. We will continue to bring industry and government together, doing everything in our power to support the right decisions being taken at the right time, to ensure that our industry continues to provide for the British public.”

News and insight

News, insight and online learning to help you respond

COVID-19 updates

Keep up with how the UK government and industry are responding

Industry response

All of us who proudly grow, manufacture, supply and sell food and groceries are pulling together to feed the nation.

We’re working round the clock to make sure everyone – wherever they live and whoever they are – can get what they need.

We know some groups need extra support, and – with the government’s help - we’re working on that as fast as we can.

We’re proud and privileged to lead the 4 million colleagues up and down the UK who are working to deliver for our customers, and we thank them for all that they are doing.

But we can’t do it alone. Please help us by buying only what you need. Let’s feed the nation, together.

These individuals are working directly with us, representing their organisations from across the food and consumer goods industry, to address the challenges caused by coronavirus COVID-19.


Stuart Forder

Anglo Beef
Processors UK

Bob Carnell

Associated British

Sarah Arrowsmith

Association of
Convenience Stores

James Lowman


Giles Hurley

Doug Gurr


Ash Amirahmadi

Roger Burnley

Agust Gudmundsson


Dawood Pervez

Andrew Selley

Natasha Bowes

Charles Wilson

Hugo Mahoney

British Retail

Richard Pennycook,
Helen Dickinson

European Partners

Leendert den Hollander

Compass Group
UK & Ireland

Robin Mills

Jo Whitfield

UK & Ireland

James Pearson

Lindsay Boswell

Food and Drink

Ian Wright

Federation of
Wholesale Distributors

James Bielby


Ian Craig


Rajesh Tugnait


Ben Pearman


Hannah Wingfield

Patrick Coveney

Nish Kankiwala

Malcolm Walker

Susan Barratt

John Lewis

Patrick Lewis

Chris Silcock


Rafael Oliveira

Christian Hartnagel

Marks and

Steve Rowe

Louise Stigant

David Potts


Noel Keeley

National Farmers

Minette Batters

Stefano Agostini

Ken Towle

Panos Manuelides

Melanie Smith


David Murray

Procter &

Tom Moody


Alex Whitehouse

Mike Coupe


Flor Healy

2 Sisters
Food Group

Ranjit Singh Boparan

Ajoy Karna

Tata Consumer
Products UK

Graeme Karavis

Jason Tarry


Kate Nicholls

Sebastian Munden

Waitrose &

Rupert Thomas

Neil Campbell

Our events

These are difficult and unprecedented times. We take the health and
safety of our delegates and members extremely seriously and continue
to regularly monitor and review official guidance regarding the outbreak
of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

In the light of revised UK Government guidance issued on 16th March
regarding mass gatherings and social distancing measures, we are
currently in talks with our retail partners about our upcoming events.

We will be issuing new details about these events in the coming days,
so please continue to check for further information.

Government guidance

Please find here the latest GOV.UK guidance regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Online resources for businesses and employers

For the latest information and advice, employers and business owners should visit guidance for
employees, employers and businesses.
Check the page regularly for updates and subscribe
to receive email alerts.

Information includes:



Employers and employees:

Hygiene and safety:

Find the updated stay-at-home guidance here. For information about the illness and symptoms

Businesses should check for daily updates at GOV.UK and subscribe to receive email alerts to
ensure they are acting on the most up to date information.

We will continue to update this section as further guidance is issued.




Most physical retail outlets are closed, although exceptions apply for essential items.

All forms of remote commerce are still permitted – and encouraged – by government guidance.

Interest in e-commerce has risen significantly as a result of the virus.

IGD’s researchers have seen e-commerce evolving quickly, with initiatives including:

  • Asking shoppers to specify whether they are self-isolating
  • Expanding capacity, for delivery and click-and-collect
  • Extending order lead times
  • Limiting order sizes
  • Substitution promises

Further coverage and photography is available for subscribers on Retail Analysis

BRC lists changes to retail practice, including online retail, here


Generally, no.

Bars, cafes, clubs, hotels, pubs and restaurants are closed, although this is revised regularly.

Closure is legally enforced, with penalties for non-compliance.

Some exceptions apply, including a concession for delivery and takeaway functions. Some operators are beginning to re-open in a limited fashion, taking advantage of this concession.

Businesses are also changing practices in order to reduce (eg: “no contact” transactions).


The closure of foodservice facilities initially included workplace canteens, with very limited exceptions allowed (eg: charity, education, medical, prison and military facilities).

A subsequent revision of the rules, issued on 25th March, allows for canteens to open, subject to necessity and changed practice. This does not allow for a return to normal operation.

Yes, although some businesses have chosen to close.

Foodservice outlets can still offer delivery and takeaway services, even where this is not permitted under planning permission (rules have been changed to allow this).

Businesses should not provide seating inside or outside and customers should not eat or drink whilst waiting to be served. Advance ordering is required (eg: via app).

The exception is that businesses cannot offer delivery or takeaway for alcoholic drinks unless this is normally a permitted activity.

Closure of foodservice leaves assets (eg: vehicles, warehouses) and people (eg: chefs, drivers) under-utilised.

Businesses are searching for ways to bring these resources back into use, protecting employment and incomes.

Platforms for temporarily re-deploying staff are under development.

One example is the Spare Worker Availability Portal (SWAP), by the Association of Labour Providers.

Some specialist foodservice wholesalers have also begun serving the public directly.

Examples include T Ridley, Savona, Caterite and Harvest Fine Foods – members of the Country Range group.

Some businesses may be able to re-allocate goods from foodservice to the retail channel.

This is a challenge, however, as foodservice products are typically large and brands may be unfamiliar.


Most commercial, cultural and social premises have now been closed for a period of at least 3 weeks, after which the measures will be re-assessed

These measures are enforceable by law under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Business Closures) Regulations 2020. Separate, but similar, regulations apply in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

An abbreviated list of the premises affected and those exempt is given below. Stores selling food, drink and other necessities remain open, in all formats. E-commerce also remains available.

However, the Prime Minister emphasised that shopping trips – and any other excursions – should be minimised

Closed Open
Bars, pubs Banks
Cafes, canteens, restaurants (some exceptions) Bike shops
Hotels (some exceptions) Car rental offices
Markets (some exceptions) Charity food provision
Retail (unless noted on right) Farm supply stores
Food delivery, takeaway
Food retail stores (all formats)
Home, hardware stores
Medical, dental and optical
Off licences
Online retail
Petrol stations
Shopping centres (permitted businesses only)
Storage and distribution facilities

Demand for food retail – online and in store - increased significantly in the first weeks of the Coronavirus emergency, due to closure of foodservice and shopper activity.

Kantar WorldCOVIDFAQpanel shows that grocery sales were up 21% in the 4 weeks ending 22nd March 2020, vs the same period the year before.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that sales growth reversed sharply and that, most recently, the situation is beginning to normalise. We await fresh data, however.

In May, the government issued new guidance on making retail outlets “Covid-19 Secure”, to protect both customers and employees.

This builds upon long-standing health-and-safety doctrine, using risk assessments developed jointly by employers and employees.

Specific advice on developing Covid-19 Secure workplaces in retail can be found here

Further coverage and photography is available for subscribers on Retail Analysis

BRC lists changes to retail practice, including online retail, here

IGD’s researchers have seen food retail evolving quickly, with initiatives including:

  • Accelerated payments for smaller suppliers
  • Closing counters and cafes
  • Limiting transaction sizes
  • Rent “holidays” for small tenants
  • Changed trading hours
  • Special trading hours for vulnerable shoppers and essential workers

Further coverage and photography is available for subscribers on Retail Analysis

BRC lists changes to retail practice, including online retail, here

Retail outlets for food, drink and other essential items have been allowed to remain open throughout the Coronavirus emergency, although the list of permitted activities is limited.

In a speech on 25 May, the Prime Minister laid out a timetable for the gradual re-opening of the rest of UK retail, with timing as follows:

  • From 01 June – Outdoor markets and car showrooms
  • From 15 June – Other retail outlets previously considered “non-essential” (eg: books, clothing)

This gives most retailers three weeks to prepare for possible re-opening – businesses planning to re-open should give notice to furloughed staff as soon as possible.

However, this relaxation of “lockdown” rules is conditional. It depends on the government’s “five tests” for managing Coronavirus being met and the adoption of “safe working” practices by retailers.

The government policy paper is explicit that relaxation of lockdown is not a one-way process and that restrictions may be re-imposed if needed, perhaps at short notice.

“Safe working” practices refer to guidance issued previously, which uses risk assessments developed in conjunction with worker representatives. This guidance has been updated recently, based on feedback from retailers. Compliance will be enforced via spot-checks by local authorities.

Note that certain service businesses e.g. hairdressers and foodservice outlets will remain closed for the time being (foodservice can continue to provide goods to takeaway).


All large UK food retailers now offer dedicated shopping hours for older citizens (and, often, health workers).

However, there are many citizens who have been advised to stay at home for the duration of the crisis.

UK doctors are working to identify and contact these especially vulnerable individuals. They may also self-identify via a government portal

IGD has co-operating with partners to develop an emergency food delivery solution to feed those with no other means of support.

This is now being actioned on behalf of the government by Brakes and Bidfood. Deliveries will continue until further notice.

IGD’s ShopperVista research programme has been tracking GB shoppers through the virus outbreak. We have detected significant changes in decision-making and shopping behaviour.

Comparing behaviour over 19th-25th April with behaviour in January and February:

  • Less confidence in personal financial outcomes
  • More focus on saving money
  • More focus on quick, easy shopping when choosing a store

Full details and analysis are available online, for subscribers on ShopperVista

IGD’s ShopperVista research programme has been tracking shoppers through the Coronavirus outbreak.

These findings suggest that shoppers are adapting their shopping behaviour and dedicating more effort to the process to get what they need. In April

  • Shoppers visited fewer channels
  • Shoppers made fewer shopping trips
  • Trips were more likely to be “main shops”
  • More shoppers used the online channel by preference

Full details and analysis are available online, for subscribers on ShopperVista

IGD has a good understanding of how shoppers behave, through the ShopperVista research programme.

Under normal circumstances, shoppers respond to out-of-stocks by switching to an alternative varieties, pack sizes or brands.

Generally, they do not go to great lengths to seek out their desired item, although there are exceptions to this (eg: baby products and health / beauty aids tend to have higher shopper loyalty).

Where there are multiple out-of-stocks, as seen during the Coronavirus outbreak, there are fewer options for switching and a greater sense of urgency.

The most recent ShopperVista research, covering 27th- 29nd March shows high willingness to visit new food stores in order to obtain goods as well as high willingness to experiment by buying new or different products.

Full details and analysis are available online, for subscribers on ShopperVista

IGD has done (and is doing) extensive shopper research in the UK, but none at present on the international picture.

Other agencies have recently completed research. We suggest that you refer to Dynata and Pew Research.

The government is working with businesses and other organisations to help medically-vulnerable citizens access medicines and food.

Some have already been contacted by their GP and given instructions but, if not, it is possible to be pro-active.

Citizens with a medical condition making them vulnerable to Coronavirus are invited make themselves known online.

An NHS number is required.

Note that it may take some time before help arrives, so it is important to act promptly.

In the meantime, citizens are urged to look after friends, relatives and neighbours.


Government guidance on the use of private cars when traveling to work is as follows:

However, guidance also requires citizens to remain at least 2m apart from other people, where they are not members of the same household. It also prohibits gathering of more than two individuals.

When using a private vehicle to make a journey that is essential, cars should only be shared by members of the same household. Those who normally share a car with people who are not members of their own household for a journey that is essential, e.g. getting to work, should consider alternatives such as walking, cycling and public transport where you maintain a distance of two meters from others.

If the journey is essential, such as travel to work, and there is no option but to share a car with people who are not part of the same household, journeys should be shared with the same individuals and with the minimum number of people at any one time.


Good ventilation (i.e. keeping the windows open) and facing away from each other may help to reduce the risk of transmission. Private vehicles that are used by people from multiple households should be cleaned regularly using gloves and standard cleaning products with particular emphasis on handles.

Maintaining food availability during the virus outbreak may require businesses to reformulate products (eg: substituting ingredients).

Any changes would need to be noted on product labels or packaging, at least for as long as the UK continues to apply EU law on this issue (this is required under the Withdrawal Agreement).

There is no provision in EU law to allow for broad derogation by national governments, although agreement to vary the rules might potentially be achieved at EU level.

There are specific provisions for relaxing labelling regulations in exceptional situations (eg: factory fires). Businesses are exploring how this might be applied to the current exceptional situation.


The government has issued guidance aimed at food businesses, both manufacturers and retailers.

The Welsh government has gone further and has developed legislation which enforces social distancing and other hygiene measures in workplaces.

“Our Plan To Rebuild”, the government policy document for “unlocking” the UK economy depends heavily on making places of business “Covid-19 Secure”.

Supplementary policy documents, developed in co-operation with industry representatives, describe how this should be done.

Certain common elements apply to all workplaces:

  • Work from home if possible
  • If not possible, employers must carry out risk assessments, in concert with workers
  • Observe minimum 2m social distancing, if possible
  • If not possible, take steps to manage risk
  • Reinforce cleaning regimes

Specific packages of guidance are provided for:

Employers have a long-standing responsibility to protect workers from health and safety hazards in the workplace, including Coronavirus.

The key activity for employers is to carry out a Coronavirus risk assessment, working with employee representatives (eg: union officials). This builds on pre-existing doctrine.

Once risk is recognised, employers must take reasonable steps to minimise risk of infection, although it is understood that the risk cannot be entirely eliminated.

The government has issued guidance for the public, explaining how to travel safely on public transport during the Coronavirus emergency.

As before, minimising movement and maximising social distance are central elements. Passengers are asked to wear improvised face coverings when using public transport – this remains optional, however.

In line with the policy paper Our Plan to Rebuild, the government has confirmed that, from 08 June, persons arriving in the UK from overseas will be required to provide contact details and to “self-isolate” for 14 days.

This quarantine will be enforced via spot checks by officials and fines of up to £1,000 may be levied in the event of a breach.

Where a person has no suitable accommodation in which to self-isolate, a government quarantine facility will be provided.

Not all travellers will be affected, however. There is a lengthy list of exemptions, which includes drivers delivering goods and seasonal agricultural workers (although the latter will be required to self-isolate on farms).

Those exempted will still be required to follow the same rules as UK residents e.g. social distancing measures.


In the first instance, you should contact your existing redistribution partner.

If this route is not suitable, or if you have no existing partner, contact WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme).

WRAP are working with Defra and through their Courtauld 2025 redistribution network to provide guidance to food businesses, and identify those who could receive surplus.

A link to WRAPs food surplus network database can be found here and detailed guidance on charitable and commercial redistribution is here.

Many commercial activities are currently closed, due to “lockdown” rules intended to limit the spread of Coronavirus

This creates commercial challenges and the government has brought forward measures intended to limit the impact of lockdown on businesses and employees.

A key initiative is the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

This allows workers to be placed on “furlough” (ie: stood down) for the duration of the emergency, with a proportion of their wages reclaimed from government.

This, it is hoped, will reduce cash-flow pressure, allowing businesses to “hibernate” through the virus outbreak and re-start afterwards, retaining as many employees as possible.

Key points are (note that this applies to the first phase of the furlough scheme – the scheme will change slightly from July onwards):


  • Employer and employee must both consent to furlough
  • The employee must have been on PAYE payroll on 28th February 2020
  • Any type of employment contract is eligible (eg: full-time, part-time, temporary or zero-hours)
  • The employee must not be on sick leave or self-isolated (SSP covers these cases)
  • The self-employed are not eligible
  • Employees on reduced hours are not eligible (regular benefits may be payable)
  • Employees with several jobs can be placed on furlough by more than one employer
  • Employees previously made redundant can be re-employed on furlough terms


  • The employee is paid in the usual way, up 80% of the usual amount, to a maximum of £2,500 pcm
  • The employer applies for a grant from the government to cover this amount
  • Taxes and pension contributions are paid in the usual way
  • Employers can pay more than the 80% limit if they choose to
  • Furlough lasts a minimum of 3 weeks and a maximum of 3 months, but can be extended

When on furlough

  • The employee can do no paid work for the employer when on furlough
  • Training or volunteering are permitted, if unpaid
  • The employee can work for another employer when on furlough, where permitted under their contract
  • Furloughed employees can be made redundant – the usual rules apply

The HMRC “portal” to be used by employers to claim under this scheme became active on 20th April and can be found here.

To use the portal, an employer must have a Government Gateway ID and password. Around 5,000 HMRC employees have been detailed to support users.

Users are advised to have all information ready before using the portal, as there is currently no “save and return” option and applications “time-out” after 30 minutes of inactivity.

New documents have been issued by HMRC to assist employers in making use of CJRS, including a step-by-step guide and guides to calculating entitlements.

HMRC has promised that payments will be made promptly, usually within 6 days of an application being completed.

Advice for employees

Advice for employers

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS, or “furlough”) has been extended until October, with some important changes.

The first version of the scheme was announced in March. The government agreed to pay 80% of wages for all UK workers placed on furlough, subject to rules on eligibility.

Around 7.5m workers are now believed to be furloughed, from about 935,000 businesses, with the cost to date being £10.1bn (source: government press release, 12th May).

The Chancellor has now announced a new phase of the plan which will run from July until October. Rules will be changed, however.

In the new phase, the cost will be shared between government and employer. Employees will continue to receive 80% of the usual wage, to a maximum of £2,500 per month.

From August, there will also be increased flexibility, with workers allowed to work part-time. This may help to address “cliff-edge” effects as the economy returns to normal and government support is phased out.

Citizens have been instructed to remain at home in order to limit the spread of Coronavirus.

Workers are permitted to travel to and from work, however, if they cannot work from home.

The government provides education / childcare for a list of “critical” workers whilst schools are closed.

It is not necessary to be a “critical” worker to travel to work.

A list of “critical” workers is provided here – the list includes anyone working in the food and drink supply chain and related activities.

Childcare providers may require “critical” workers to prove their status.

IGD has also heard reports that Police have stopped employees on their way to work and challenged the necessity of their journeys.

There is no “official” standard of proof, but FDF has produced a simple template letter for issue to workers in food businesses.


A new Statutory Instrument has been laid before Parliament allowing co-operation, where is creates public benefit.

The Competition Act 1998 (Groceries) (Coronavirus) (Public Policy Exclusion) Order 2020, covers businesses involved in supply of:

  • Food (including pet food)
  • Drink (including alcohol)
  • OTC medicines
  • Cleaning and household products

Other products and services commonly supplied via the grocery supply chain (eg: banking, clothing, homewares, petrol) are not included.

Under the terms of the SI, businesses are permitted to share information and to co-ordinate activity in specific areas, including:

  • Limiting transaction sizes
  • Sharing labour and premises
  • Changing ranges and product specification
  • Stock levels
  • Logistics activity
  • Assistance for vulnerable consumers and essential workers
  • Store openings and closures
  • Assistance for vulnerable areas

Note that businesses are not permitted to share information on costs or pricing.

All activities must be notified in writing to the Secretary of State within 14 days.

The SI has a limited life and applies only during disruption caused by Coronavirus.

Government guidance states that workers who become sick whilst on furlough can either remain on furlough pay or switch to statutory sick pay (SSP), at the employer’s discretion.

Only one mechanism may be used at a time – an employee may either be on furlough or on SSP, but cannot be on both simultaneously.

Note that the minimum length of furlough leave is 3 weeks..


Government guidance states that workers who are “clinically vulnerable” and who are off work to “shield” themselves in-line with health guidance can be placed on furlough. The same applies to those who are off work to care for those who are “shielding”.

Note that the minimum length of furlough leave is 3 weeks.


Employees can be furloughed if they must miss work due to caring responsibilities, as a result of Coronavirus. This would include caring for children or other dependents.

Note that the minimum length of furlough leave is 3 weeks.


The latest guidance to employees says that employees can use holiday when furloughed, as per contract. The exact wording can be seen by following this link, and scrolling down to “holiday pay”

CIPD also provides useful guidance.


The latest guidance to employees says that employees can use holiday when furloughed, as per contract. The exact wording can be seen by following this link, and scrolling down to “holiday pay”

CIPD also provides useful guidance.


If furloughed employees choose to use holiday, then holiday pay is at the usual rate, as per contract. The exact wording can be seen by following this link, and scrolling down to “holiday pay”

This is under review, however.

CIPD also provides useful guidance.


“Statutory leave” refers to maternity, paternity and adoption leave.

If a person on “furlough” becomes entitled to statutory leave (ie: becomes a parent), they gain the usual financial benefit.

Pay is based on the usual pay rate, rather than the furlough rate.


The government offers free Coronavirus testing to “essential workers” who are isolating with symptoms, allowing them to return to work if clear or continue to isolate if infected.

Testing is also available to essential workers sharing a household with such individuals.

“Essential workers” includes those involved in producing, distributing or selling food and other essential goods. It also includes those working in transport for goods or passengers.

Tests can be done at home, at a mobile testing centre or a static testing site.

Testing involves swabbing the nose and back of the throat, which may be done at home by the subject or by another person. Results are available between 48 and 72 hours after testing, depending on the method.

Workers can self-refer or can be referred by an employer. Digital portals are used for booking – the previous “manual” process for booking has now been withdrawn.

Note that where an employee is referred by an employer, the employer will not be given the result of the test.

Due to the way the NHS is organized, slightly different arrangements apply to England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.