Catalogue description Ministry of Food: Services Department: Distribution Group

Search within or browse this series to find specific records of interest.

Date range

Details of MAF 99
Reference: MAF 99
Title: Ministry of Food: Services Department: Distribution Group

This series contains material on a wide variety of the Ministry of Food's functions, which include control over rationing for individuals, institutions and the services; the transportation, storage, preservation and manufacture of food and feedstuffs; food distribution between wholesalers and retailers and licensing of retailers and caterers. It also contains some records relating to flood damage. The papers are generally those dated between 1940 and 1955. Exceptionally a few papers outside this date range have been included to preserve continuity.

It includes some DRY files re-registered from MAF 353 and some EMF files re-registered from MAF 357

Date: 1938-1966

The records are arranged chronologically under the originating division or unit and are generally of the period 1940 to 1955.

Related material:

For records on Food Supply Defence Planning see MAF 250

Separated material:

Some papers have been re-registered in the STR file series; see MAF 325

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Former reference in its original department: X/TR file series
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

Ministry of Food, Services Department, Distribution Group, 1947-1955

Physical description: 2062 file(s)
Access conditions: Open
Administrative / biographical background:

The Services Department came into being at the time of the general re-organisation in January 1947 and comprised of four groups and a secretariat. The divisions which were brought together to form the Distribution Group had before this time been linked with other departments such as Supply and Divisional and Local Services. These divisions were as follows:

Ancillary Materials Division. This ensured to the food trades such buildings, equipment, packaging materials, fuel and other ancillary facilities as were deemed necessary to maintain food production and distribution.

The Catering Division was primarily responsible for administering the rationing scheme for people feeding collectively either in catering establishments or in groups.

The Cold Storage Division had responsibility for the proper storage of perishable commodities owned by the ministry. It also ensured that all cold stores in the United Kingdom were maintained and operated efficiently.

The Dehydration Division procured dehydrated vegetables for the Armed Services and collaborated with the Scientific Adviser's Division in the development of the science of dehydration of foodstuffs. It was also responsible for the administration of an experimental factory in Aberdeen.

The Emergency Services Division prepared plans and initiated action necessary to ensure the supply of essential foodstuffs to the public in the event of an emergency.

The Freight Division arranged the provision of suitable and adequate shipping space for the carriage of food and feeding-stuffs under the control of the ministry. Carriage by United Kingdom coastal shipping was the responsibility of Transport Division.

The Gas Precautions Branch was concerned with the protection of foodstuffs from contamination by poison gas.

The Overseas Gift Allocation Centre was responsible for the receipt and allocation of bulk gifts of food. It also dealt with questions concerning individual gifts and imports of food and the taking and sending of food out of the United Kingdom.

The Licensing Division dealt with the licensing and ultimate de-licensing of retailers and caterers. It also dealt with individual appeals and enquiries from customers and trade associations on shopping and catering difficulties.

The Manpower Division served as a liaison office with the Ministry of Labour on all matters concerning the employment of labour and labour conditions for the food industries.

The Manufactured Foods Group exercised such control or oversight as was deemed necessary for miscellaneous, manufactured and prepacked foods not under the direct control of specific commodity divisions.

The Points Rationing Division was responsible for the points, personal points and domestic soap rationing schemes. The points scheme covered those foods of which there were insufficient to permit a regular fixed ration per head. The personal points scheme applied only to chocolate and sugar confectionery.

The Rationing Division exercised control of the machinery for domestic rationing of the straight rationed foods i.e. meat, butter, cheese etc., including the preparation and printing of ration documents. In co-operation with other government departments the division also had responsibilities in the operation of poultry keepers' ration schemes, clothes rationing and national registration in its relation to rationing administration.

The Salvage and Realisation Division dealt with the disposal and realisation of all food and feeding-stuffs which for any reason were outside the normal channels of distribution or which, by reason of damage or deterioration, were unsuitable for normal allocation. Also responsible for operating depots for reconditioning damaged or doubtful canned food on behalf of commodity divisions.

The Services Supplies Branch was the channel of communication and investigation on all questions affecting ration scales for the forces and NAAFI at home and overseas. Arrangements were made in conjunction with commodity divisions for the provision and delivery of foodstuffs required by the forces and NAAFI in any part of the world.

The Ships Stores Branch ensured that merchant ships and deep sea fishing vessels were adequately victualled and that no food in excess of that authorized was taken out of the country.

The Transport Division was responsible for the necessary movement inland of home produced and imported foods, feeding-stuffs and ancillary materials essential to food production. Road, rail, inland waterways and coastal shipping facilities were all involved and close liaison was maintained with the various transport undertakings.

The Warehousing Division arranged the allocation and storage of a substantial portion of the ministry's stocks of home-grown and imported foodstuffs on behalf of commodity divisions. It administered the Buffer Depots and sub-depots and dealt with the acquisition, protection and release of ministry stores as well as those of food undertakings and ancillary trades.

The Wartime Meals Division dealt with all matters relating to the provision of special feeding facilities (as distinct from food supplies) e.g. for schools and British Restaurants.

The Wholesale and Retail Distribution Division acted as liaison between the ministry and the wholesale and retail grocery and provision trades. It was responsible for the issue of licences to wholesalers for certain items for which licences were not issued by commodity divisions.

Have you found an error with this catalogue description?

Help with your research