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.
Absence issues due to COVID-19
All adults in Scotland and Wales who have been fully vaccinated no longer have to self-isolate if they are identified as close contacts of someone with COVID-19.
From Monday 16 August the same rules apply in England. The Northern Ireland Executive is due to meet today to discuss adopting the same approach.
The government has put in place daily contact testing in England at critical workplaces to help alleviate absence issues.
Businesses are encouraged to continue with daily contact testing for employees who have not been fully vaccinated after 16 August.
The reasonable excuse exemption scheme for critical workers in England will come to an end after 16 August.
See here for more details and guidance on how to request a reasonable excuse letter. DEFRA will be providing further guidance and a communication package for businesses in England in the coming days relating to self-isolation and testing following the changes on 16 August.
DEFRA is keeping under review absence levels in all parts of the food supply chain and is requesting businesses complete this absence tracking survey as frequently as possible.
The Scottish government has announced asymptomatic workplace testing for organisations with ten or more employees.
HGV driver shortages – extension to relaxation of drivers’ hours
The Department for Transport has announced a further extension to relaxation of drivers’ hours. This applies until 3 October 2021.
This is part of a package of measures government is putting in place to support the road haulage industry.
The Road Haulage Association have warned that it may take up to 18 months to train enough HGV drivers to tackle the current shortage.
You can read more about how this issue and broader labour shortages are creating inflationary pressure in our latest Viewpoint report.
Product availability and shopper stockpiling research
Shopper research conducted for IGD over the weekend of 06-08 August reveals more shoppers (56% vs 48% last weekend) are experiencing availability issues for various food and groceries.
More adults (32%) have recently felt the need to stock up or purchase more than they normally do, up from 27% last weekend.
See the full results here.
Despite the operational challenges due to labour shortages, there are sufficient food supplies within the system and the impact on availability has been limited to date.
Exports using new Export Health Certificates
DEFRA has confirmed a delay to the introduction of a new model of Export Health Certificates for products of animal origin exported to the EU from 21 August to 15 January 2022. See here for more details.
DEFRA is expected to issue further guidance shortly.
Imports of products of animal origin
From 1 October products of animal origin and all regulated plants and plant products will require pre-notification and health documentation to be imported into the UK.
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See the Key dates for UK-EU transition and support for businesses
The Office for National Statistics has reported that the UK economy grew by 4.8% between April and June. The largest contribution to growth included wholesale, retail trade and foodservice. GDP is still 4.4% below where it was pre-pandemic at Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2019.
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Our round-up of the latest economic and political news, focused on FMCGs