The Cold Chain Federation gave an influential Committee of MPs crucial insight yesterday into the realities of the current challenging environment for temperature-controlled distribution, and called for Government action to ease current pressures and promote future resilience of food supply chains.
The federation’s Chief Executive Shane Brennan discussed the range of challenges cold chain operators are facing and their impacts during an evidence session held by the Select Committee for Transport as part of its inquiry into the road freight supply chain. He answered MPs’ questions on a panel alongside the Road Haulage Association and Logistics UK, urging the Committee to resolve hugely disruptive requirements for movements of goods between the UK and Northern Ireland, and calling for a strategy for public and private investment in the development of haulage infrastructure that will meet UK needs for the coming decades.
The discussions also included exploration of the impacts of the driver shortage, recruitment and retention issues, the need to improve driver facilities, impacts of increased congestion, investment in decarbonisation, and the impacts of new and imminent border procedures.
During the Committee’s session, Cold Chain Federation Chief Executive Shane Brennan said: “The big X-factor for 1st January is that we are asking business across the EU to start taking action in terms of Brexit but it’s a long time since Brexit happened in terms of consciousness. So the level of preparedness going into 1st January is a worry. What are the operational plans if we start to see delays? We all know what we want to achieve, but we need clarity on that operational collaboration with EU authorities.”
The Cold Chain Federation also made clear that while there is no cause for concern about food shortages over the Christmas period, the extreme pressures on the supply chain mean a strategic simplification in range of products, with effects including reduced profitability for supply chain businesses which have already been through a very difficult two years.
Commenting after the evidence session, Cold Chain Federation Chief Executive Shane Brennan said: “The opportunity for the Cold Chain Federation to discuss the challenges our members are facing with the Transport Committee as part of this formal evidence session is crucially important for our industry. When the Committee makes its recommendations on Government policy and investment related to haulage, it has listened to some of the major needs and concerns of cold chain operators. Our evidence has also been featured across national broadcast and print media, showing Government and consumers alike why our committed and resilient operators are crucial to keeping the nation fed and why we must recognise there are limits to what the supply chain can achieve in the current operating environment.”
The recording of the evidence session can be viewed here – https://parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/292b60b5-e5ee-44f0-b340-b0b8cc2903d1