National Confectioners Association (NCA) president and CEO John Downs has written to the Trump administration and congressional leadership requesting a recovery fund of $500m to pay employees, maintain overhead expenses and meet existing financial obligations to support the candy industry through the coronavirus pandemic, American political website The Hill has reported.
“We strongly encourage all governors, mayors and other government officials to take decisive action to rescue American small businesses from economic peril and make it clear that food manufacturing is an essential service in these uncertain times,” he said.
Manufacturers of chocolate, candy, gum and mints directly employ nearly 54,000 people across the United States, with the majority of these jobs being created by small businesses -- John Downs, NCA CEO
"On behalf of the confectionery industry, and along with 60 other food industry organizations, we recently sent a letter to elected officials at all levels of government calling on them to officially recognize food manufacturing as essential critical infrastructure, thereby exempting food industry operations from curfews and limitations on public gatherings," said Downs in an opinion piece published by the NCA.
“As we all know, manufacturing facilities are not areas of ‘public gathering’, but are heavily controlled environments that are regularly inspected, operate under strict food safety requirements, exemplify good manufacturing practices and exercise rigorous hygienic protocols.”
Downs said the NCA has also asked for no-interest and low-interest loan assistance, expanded unemployment insurance to temporarily laid off employees, and suspended payroll tax collection.
“Manufacturers of chocolate, candy, gum and mints directly employ nearly 54,000 people across the United States, with the majority of these jobs being created by small businesses. Importantly, the power of this concentrated but important part of our economy lies in the 1:10 multiplier effect that supports more than 550,000 jobs in related industries, including agriculture, retail, transportation and more. If the small businesses within our industry, not to mention the broader food manufacturing sector, end up failing because of the very serious challenges we are facing as a country, a significant number of jobs will crumble behind them, causing major harm to our economy,” he said.
Downs stressed small confectionery producers operate on narrow margins already and employ 250 people or fewer.
He added the industry’s small manufacturers are concerned about rent and payroll, preventing layoffs and dealing with frozen supply chains.
UK sets up 'war room' for food security
In the UK, the government has announced it is appointing former Nestlé executive Chris Tyas as DEFRA's (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) director of food supply and will oversee a ‘war room’ to take control of food security during the coronavirus outbreak.
Tyas, who ran the multinational's food supply chain for five years, will ensure Britain's food security in the coming days as the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis deepens.
DEFRA spokesperson David Kennedy told retail owners "the current crisis will continue to create huge challenges for the food supply of the nation and DEFRA had decided on a food resilience strategy and its priorities were to triage immediate issues and focus the resources of the whole industry on their resolution [and] to plan ahead, with a horizon of the next few months, in order to anticipate pinch points".
CAA postpones conference for second time
The Cocoa Association of Asia (CAA) has also announced it has had to shelve the new date for its planned conference due to go ahead from June 1 to June 2 in Singapore. The event was originally scheduled to take place this month and put back to the summer. Organizers said they are currently negotiating for new dates, which they will “announce soon”.