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There will be no food shortages in Northern Ireland during coronavirus crisis, insists top producer

Peter Hannan

Northern Ireland will not suffer from a shortage of key essentials such as food amid the coronavirus pandemic, one of the leading food producers here has said.

Peter Hannan, of Co Down's Hannan Meats, said: "There will be no one short of food... we would have to be in a very dire situation for a very long time before I would have any concerns."

Speaking on the latest Ulster Business podcast, Mr Hannan, who is the sole meat supplier to Fortnum and Mason along with 400 of Ireland and the UK's top restaurants, said his business is continuing to serve the public, but that his primary hospitality arm has effectively ceased since the lockdown.

"We supply more than 400 restaurants here and around the world," he said.

"We don't have one client open at present so that is a very different side to our business."

Mr Hannan's retail business The Meat Merchant remains open in Moira, and his firm was one of the first to take considerable measures to ensure the safety of both staff and customers.

"The priorities weren't that we would have 300 things on the shelf, the first priority was keeping people as safe as they could be," he said.

"We were probably at it before the supermarkets.

"We have it marked out, gloves for everyone who comes in, everything wiped down after use.

"That was for the protection of people."

Speaking about the issue of food supply here, while many logistics firms are struggling amid a changing retail environment, he said: "There'll be lots and lots of food.

"There won't be any shortage, I don't believe.

"You have to understand the psyche of people.

"If you think of how many things in the food chain are absolute necessities. What is a necessity?

"We all like to have variety and a selection.

"But I don't see any point where we would get to where scarcity is going to become an issue.

"We are very fortunate on this side of the world that we produce so much of the food that we eat.

"We have the seasonality and we have the variety."

You can listen to the full Ulster Business Podcast at www.ulsterbusiness.com