IGD - Economics bulletin 27 July

Date : 28 July 2021

Your overview of political and economic news with a focus on the food and consumer goods industry, featuring the latest developments and guidance on COVID-19 and adapting to a new relationship with the EU.

NEW IGD report and webinar – As the economy recovers, what new challenges are emerging

In the second issue of its quarterly ‘Viewpoint’ report, the economics team at IGD focus on the challenges emerging for the food and consumer goods industry as the economy continues to recover. The latest research highlights three key themes:

  • Significant risks to the recovery remain
  • The shopper landscape provides opportunities but also challenges
  • Government priorities are shifting

Download the free report here.

Sign up to the free webinar here on Thursday 29 July

New schemes to resolve absence issues relating to COVID-19

The government has announced two schemes for the food and consumer goods industry to help resolve absence issues in England resulting from employees being advised to self-isolate for up to 10 days, following notification from the Test and Trace App that they had been in close contact with someone reporting a positive COVID-19 test result.

  • Daily contact testing will be rolled out to critical workplaces at supermarket depots and food manufacturers’ sites. It will comprise around 500 food supply chain sites in England. It will mean that workers who are alerted by the app or contacted by NHS Test and Trace will be able to continue working if they test negative, whether or not they are vaccinated. Further details are available by contacting DEFRA
  • Reasonable excuse for named individuals - In the small number of situations where the self-isolation of close contacts would result in serious disruption to critical services, a limited number of named workers may be able to leave self-isolation under specific controls for the purpose of undertaking critical work only. Further details are available here

DEFRA is keeping under review absence levels in other parts of the food supply chain.

Different arrangements apply in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Product availability and shopper stockpiling research

Despite the operational challenges due to increased number of employees being advised to self-isolate, there are sufficient food supplies within the system and the impact on availability has been limited to date.

See IGD’s latest shopper research findings looking at in-store and online availability and stockpiling.

HGV driver shortage update

The government has issued an open letter to the logistics sector detailing measures to support the industry. These include:

  • Maximising testing capacity through overtime and allocating additional staff into testing
  • Consulting about the delegation of the off-road manoevres as part of the Heavy Goods Vehicle driving test
  • Issuing provisional licence entitlements to drive articulated lorries at the same time as issuing provisional licence entitlements to drive rigid lorries
  • The government is also reviewing financial support in overcoming barriers to people wishing to join the sector
  • A relaxation to drivers’ hours rules. This could be extended further.

Northern Ireland Protocol – New Command Paper

Lord Frost has set out the government’s proposals for the Northern Ireland Protocol in a new Command Paper. The UK wants to see a change in approach and is seeking urgent talks to find a new “consensual path.” The EU has indicated willingness to continue engagement with the UK on the Protocol, but no desire to renegotiate either the Protocol or the wider Trade and Co-operation Agreement.

The government will be seeking further input from industry.

Updated Border Operating Model

An updated Border Operating Model has been published. This includes a revised timetable for the introduction of the next stage of UK import requirements and new details on policies and processes. This reflects the phased implementation of controls from October and then from January 2022.

See the Key dates for UK-EU transition and support for businesses.

Changes to regulations on promotional activity on HFSS products

The government has published a response to the policy consultation on restricting promotional activity on foods high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS).

The regulations will now come into force in October 2022 rather than April 2022, giving industry more time to prepare.

Included in this technical enforcement consultation are more details about the size of stores to be included in the changes and the distance from the store entrance, in which HFSS products cannot be placed.

The Department for Health and Social care is expected to publish guidance shortly which will help businesses prepare for HFSS regulations.

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Our round-up of the latest economic and political news, focused on FMCGs