Industry shows resilience on the eve of a second coronavirus lockdown
This week, following in the footsteps of several other nations around Europe including Belgium, France and Germany, the UK is set to enter a second period of lockdown in England amid the coronavirus pandemic.
It’s not a scenario the government, nor anyone else for that matter would naturally have wanted to entertain given the economic impact alone, but the science behind rising figures of infections has leant a greater level of urgency to the situation.
In some quarters here in the UK, it has been argued our latest measures, set to last until the beginning of December, should have been instituted sooner, in line with the SAGE scientific advisory body’s advice that delaying would have a potentially more damaging effect.
In terms of its impact upon the food and drink sector, and the confectionery industry in particular, the nub of the matter is that these are part of the wider food market and considered essential industries that have carried on for the vast majority of this year amid the pandemic. This has led to manufacturers of both finished products and equipment for the sector to introduce even more stringent hygiene regimes than ever in a bid to limit instances of the disease.
This was very much in evidence from gaining the rare chance to complete a site visit recently at Prestat in London, which had fine-tuned its existing procedures to ensure business continuity amid one of the most challenging periods in its long history.
While it seems something of a herculean task to keep coronavirus completely at bay within any commercial operation, it’s commendable that our sector has in fact managed to keep going relatively unscathed for the most part. Indeed, in a number of instances, there has actually been heightened demand for snacks and premium confectionery ranges, which has to some degree negated the effects of shutdowns of the retail sector earlier this summer.
How long that sector resilience lasts is hard to say amid mounting pressures, but as restrictions tighten once again here in Britain, there is hope from the government at least, that such a significant move will act as a hoped for ‘circuit breaker’ that will buy time to improve track and test systems and for the hoped-for vaccines to enter final phases of testing, before hopefully being presented to market by the Spring of next year.
In truth, as scientists have admitted, we do in fact know yet, if any of those attempting to develop a vaccine will ultimately be successful, but a huge level of financial resources are being placed into hopefully making this a success for all our sakes. Understandably, there has been a notable degree of market uncertainty arising from the ongoing pandemic – which has come into sharp focus as a key theme of the present US presidential election reaches its conclusion.
The outcome of the contest is certainly going to have a significant impact upon future trade relations, with the food and drink sector definitely under the microscope, meaning these are certainly highly memorable and eventful times we are living through indeed.
- Neill Barston, Confectionery Production editor.
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