COVID-19: how the nabim is supporting the flour milling industry to meet the challenges
UK millers continue to work round the clock to meet the unprecedented demand for flour, which is so central to the food chain and vital to the health of the nation. Each of the individuals working in the industry plays a critical part in keeping the nation fed, so it was great to see this recognised in a letter from DEFRA Secretary of State, George Eustice. We are all in awe of the work done by NHS staff, but those providing the nation’s food and other vital services are also doing work that is so important to our health and wellbeing.
In these circumstances, nabim’s role is to support its members and ensure vital supplies to our customers and ultimately everyone in the UK are maintained. We have set up an early warning system, which enables members to flag emerging problems before they become critical. This provides vital time for the problem to be addressed both from the industry’s own resources and, where necessary, with the support of government or other parts of the food chain.
In this regard it, is great that following representation from nabim and others, the Government decided to relax working time rules slightly to help ensure that deliveries can be maintained round the clock, and recognised the key role of food workers by permitting them, where necessary, to have access to childcare and education support through the crisis.
The nabim team also participates in several groups bringing together government and industry experts which highlight both problems and their solutions, and provide opportunities for exchanging ideas to keep goods flowing smoothly through the food supply chain. Many of these groups had already been set up to address matters arising from Brexit, meaning that a collegiate style was already established, which has helped in moving things forward quickly.
The grain supply and delivery sector, including nabim members, has agreed small changes in working practice that will help the flow of goods and accompanying documentation whilst respecting social distancing and the difficulty of distributing documentation whilst so many administrative staff are working from home. The government has allowed extra time for some tests to be undertaken and wherever possible auditing is being conducted remotely.
New challenges arise all the time, but flour milling businesses and nabim are determined to address them promptly, in partnership with colleagues in the supply chain and in government, to keep the nation fed.