Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur, has today (Friday) urged the Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing to do more to address ongoing supply chain issues affecting island wholesalers.
During ‘virtual’ Members Questions, Mr McArthur highlighted the impact that inadequate supplies of food and other essential items are having on island communities and urged the government to ensure that supply chains are made to operate in the interests of the whole population. Mr McArthur has previously raised this issue with Ministers in writing and during a conference call with the Rural Economy Secretary and Islands Minister a fortnight ago.
In response, the Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing, acknowledged that there have been instances of major food companies refusing to send the appropriate volumes of supplies to the islands and confirmed that he has now written to 60 food manufacturing companies to remind them to observe the equity of supply principle.
Following the exchange, Mr McArthur commented:
“Wholesalers in Orkney are currently working round the clock to meet local demand in the midst of this crisis. In challenging circumstances, however, they are not helped by supply chains that are simply not operating fairly or equitably.
“During a recent conference call with the Cabinet Secretary and Islands Minister, I raised concerns about the behaviour of some suppliers towards our island communities. It was a call echoed by MSP and MP colleagues from across the parties.
“Unfortunately, two weeks on and shop owners and local wholesalers, who also supply our care homes and hospital, tell me little has changed. If anything, the situation is getting more serious.
“I welcome Fergus Ewing’s recognition of the problem and the action he has taken in writing to 60 of the main suppliers. However, these efforts must now be redoubled as we need to see a difference on the ground.
“At a time of crisis, getting access to food and essential items should not be a postcode lottery. Supply chains should be working in the interests of the entire population, and suppliers should be treating island wholesalers with fairness”.