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The Cold Chain Federation (CCF) has sought urgent reassurance from the government that food and pharmaceutical goods will be treated as critical industries not only through this winter, but also beyond.

It has written to the Chancellor, plus newly appointed cabinet ministers, to confirm that the provision of support to the sector extends beyond the 31 March 2023 date provided in the government’s energy bill relief scheme.

Shane Brennan, CCF chief executive, said: “With more and more cold chain businesses no longer being able to rely on forward-bought or hedged electricity and massive increase in prices forecast well into 2023 and beyond, there are serious questions about the viability of some cold chain operations.

“We are urging ministers to provide reassurance that whatever government support is in place beyond March next year, the critical businesses in food and pharmaceutical supply chains will remain supported.”

In its letter, the CCF said it was vital cold chain operations continued uninterrupted and cited the potential for unavoidable disruption to food and pharmaceutical supply chains and a significant risk of further food inflation for products like meat, dairy, fruit and vegetables.

It has argued that, unlike other sectors, cold stores use significantly more energy in the summer rather than the winter to keep products cool, so the continuation of support beyond March 2023 is vital.

The CCF’s call comes after the Food & Drink Federation (FDF) called for confirmation of the security of the supply chain.

Karen Betts, FDF chief executive, said: “We now face a different set of challenges.

“Food and drink businesses across the country are facing the toughest trading conditions anyone can remember.

“We hope the new Prime Minister will bring stability, not least in economic and energy policy, so businesses can make long-term plans alongside working with government to bear down on record levels of food and drink price inflation.”