The Food Briefing: April 2020

One story has dominated the news this month, leaving most other research or news in the shadows. Here are a few items relating to the current situation, our national response and what to look out for in the future.

Environment Secretary George Eustice has written an open letter of gratitude to all those working in the food chain, the ‘hidden heroes’ who are keeping the nation fed. Read more.

Links between intensive food production and infectious diseases are being researched as there appear to be correlations between them. Actively managing the situation going forwards is vital to prevent future outbreaks. Read more.

The Food Foundation is calling on the government to provide financial support for vulnerable people, to ensure self-isolation is successful and support food security during our national recovery. Read more.

Lastly, the Guild of Fine Food, organisers of Great Taste, Shop of the Year and the World Cheese Awards, has called for consumers across the UK and Ireland to get behind their local independents by adding an online resource to its website, intended to help delis, grocers, farm shops and cheesemongers adapt to the new economic and social environment.

As the supply of groceries continues to come under pressure during this period of social distancing, the Guild of Fine Food hopes that fast action from independents can position them as a big part of the solution and make it easy for consumers to support them during these challenging times.

Featuring tailored information, advice and tips for the fine food trade, the online resource will provide good news stories to help inspire others in the sector. Whether establishing a takeaway service, stocking household essentials, using unused produce to create frozen meals or collaborating with other local businesses, these stories can help to spark ideas to keep independents going at a time when the country needs them more than ever.

Further support bulletins will be delivered by email, with signup open to all, featuring content specifically relevant to independent food retailers, the producers who supply them and the consumers who support them. 

John Farrand, managing director of the Guild of Fine Food, explains: ‘As this unprecedented situation continues to unfold and huge change is forced upon us, we all have the opportunity to make an impact on the communities around us and to help shape what happens next. It saddens us deeply to see the suffering taking place at home and around the world, but our spirits have been lifted by the inspiring initiatives put in place by many of our members, pulling together and adapting their businesses to better serve the local community. This sudden change is already making us think differently about how we interact with the world around us and I hope we can come through the other side of this with a greater respect for our planet, our communities and our food. The challenges are everywhere, but it’s in all our interests to ensure that independent food retail is still here in a year’s time, so I’d encourage everyone to use the hashtag #supportlocal on social media to draw attention to the great things these businesses are doing. We hope that our new online resource will contribute to producers, retailers and consumers coming together for everyone’s benefit, and keep our vibrant independent food sector going strong.’

The Guild of Fine Food’s Covid-19 support resource is open to all and can be accessed at

Feeding Britain is a new book by Guild member Tim Lang – essential reading for those interested in delving behind the scenes of Britain’s food system, from one of the UK’s top experts.