Recent statements by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, highlighting fears of a second wave of Covid-19 infections in Europe in as early as two weeks, may spell disaster for British and European foodservice companies alike.
These fears have been partially propagated by the United States’ handling of the current Covid-19 crisis and more recently data from both Spain and Germany, which have seen a steady uptick in Coronavirus cases over the past 2 weeks. With the recent imposition of quarantine rules on tourists returning from Spain by the Johnson government, this could very well be the start of a new round of lockdown measures, the consequences of which will be disastrous for an already beleaguered foodservice industry.
The impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the foodservice industry is abundantly clear. Current predictions from GlobalData highlight that the disruption caused by the pandemic has been significant, with the British foodservice industry valued at $80.9bn in 2019 to a forecasted value of £55.8bn in 2020, an almost 30% fall.
This economic shock has played out similarly in both the US and EU foodservice markets. The saving grace for the industry in the UK, EU and US was down to government interventions, providing financial relief through furloughs and business loans. The UK Government is forecasted to spend £60bn on the furlough scheme from March to October during 2020, a significant amount.
Whether governments can afford to continue this throughout 2021 in the event of a second Covid-19 spike and subsequent lockdown is under scrutiny. Current plans rest upon the premise that a Covid-19 vaccine becomes available sometime around 2021, and administrations in both the EU and the US have highlighted that current measures will become unsustainable in the event of a delay in a vaccine.
With the leading Oxford vaccine entering the final stage of its Covid-19 trials, this is increasingly looking like the industry’s only hope. With the likelihood of Covid-19 leaving of its own accord increasingly scarce, the outcome of the next few weeks and months of trials will determine the future of the foodservice industry.