Food and bev groups: Coronavirus rule confusion causes delays in parts of U.S.
60 associations urge government to clarify CPG industry exemption from curfews, group limits
Groups representing most every corner of the nation’s food and beverage supply urged government officials to heed federal guidelines to allow CPG manufacturers to keep making and moving out goods at full steam.
The groups say the federal government exempted consumer packaged goods facilities, including suppliers and truck drivers, from curfews and restrictions on the size of group gatherings during the COVID-19 outbreak. But that message has not reached some state and local officials, according to a letter from the Consumer Brands Association and 60 industry associations, addressed to government officials at all levels.
Some states clearly exempted food, beverage and CPGs (including makers of cleaning supplies, paper goods, personal care products), but some have not, creating delay in several areas of the U.S. as the local restrictions take effect. The inconsistent policies are causing confusion in the industry and among employees, and the groups ask for help clarifying businesses that are exempt.
“Gathering restrictions and curfews are critical for protecting Americans and helping to flatten the curve, but the unintended consequences of those efforts could be detrimental to the production of essential goods for our fellow Americans,” Consumer Brands Association President and CEO Geoff Freeman says. “Our industry is working around the clock to manufacture the products Americans need now more than ever. Our supply chain and production capabilities are strong and they will remain strong so long as we are permitted to operate at full capacity.”
The groups ask the federal and state governments to act quickly to explain that food, pet food, beverage and other CPG manufacturers are exempt and that employees should be encouraged to continue work while healthy. Essential supply chain partners for CPG manufacturing—such as ingredient and packaging transportation, warehouses, distribution centers and retail stores—should also be considered critical infrastructure and exempt from the group size limits and curfews.
“Our requests are consistent with the designation of the food and agriculture industry as ‘critical infrastructure,’” the groups write. “Further, manufacturing facilities are not areas of ‘public gathering,’ but are heavily controlled environments that operate under strict food safety requirements, exemplify good manufacturing practices and exercise rigorous hygienic protocols.”
If federal law does not clearly allow these exemptions, the groups ask the Trump Administration and Congress for a quick legislative change.
“I’ve spoken with countless CPG leaders, and they’ve assured me that they can meet this challenge so long as (1) employees are permitted to go to work, (2) essential manufacturing facilities stay open and (3) transportation is available to move product. This is a simple roadmap that we urge state and local leaders to work with us to implement,” Freeman says.
The groups that signed the letter:
American Bakers Association
American Beverage Association
American Cleaning Institute
American Frozen Food Institute
American Fruit and Vegetable Processors and Growers Coalition
American Herbal Products Association
American Spice Trade Association
American Sugar Alliance
Association for Dressings & Sauces
California League of Food Producers
Can Manufacturers Institute
Corn Refiners Association
Consumer Brands Association
Council for Responsible Nutrition
Distilled Spirits Council of the United States
FMI-the Food Industry Association
Global Cold Chain Alliance
Healthcare Nutrition Council
Household & Commercial Products Association
Independent Bakers Association
Infant Nutrition Council of America
Institute of Shortening and Edible Oils
International Bottled Water Association
International Dairy Foods Association
International Flight Services Association
International Food Additives Council
International Foodservice Distributors Association
Juice Products Association
Midwest Food Processors Association
National Automatic Merchandising Association
National Association of Chemical Distributors
National Coffee Association
National Confectioners Association
National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
National Fisheries Institute
National Grain and Feed Association
National Grocers Association
National Milk Producers Federation
National Pasta Association
National Peach Council
National Potato Council
National Restaurant Association
North American Meat Institute
North American Millers Association
North American Renderers Association
Peanut and Tree Nut Processors Association
Pet Food Institute
Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council
Southeastern Food Processors Association
Tea Association of the U.S.A.
United Egg Producers
United Fresh Produce Association
Urban School Food Alliance
US Sweet Potato Council