Food shortages, fresh produce left to rot and prices to rise amid lorry driver ‘crisis’
Gaps are starting to appear on supermarket shelves because of a “desperate shortage” of lorry drivers – a problem that will likely lead stores to raise food prices.
Piles of fresh produce is going to landfill and some goods are starting to vanish from shops because of a shortfall of as many as 65,000 heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers.
The “escalating crisis” stands to affect supplies of goods from fruit and vegetables to milk and cheese, the boss of a leading produce company has warned.
News and analysis, direct from Westminster to your inbox
Brexit, which prompted thousands of EU lorry drivers to leave the UK, the introduction of IR35 tax changes in April, which has driven up costs, and a lack of driver training and tests during the pandemic has led to “a desperate shortage of lorry drivers”, said Tim O’Malley, managing director of Nationwide Produce.
“Hundreds of loads of produce a day” are being “rolled” – their delivery to stores being delayed by a day or more, Mr O’Malley added.
This is shortening the produce’s shelf life or leaving food spoiled by the time it reaches its destination.
One grocery chain begun notifying customers of shortages in an effort to prevent shoppers from erupting at staff.
A branch of Budgens, in Great Blackenham, Ipswich, has informed locals: “Due to a national shortage of delivery drivers, we are experiencing cancellations in deliveries resulting in low stock around the store.”
Meanwhile, last weekend, a major milk supplier was unable to make around 100 deliveries – enough to serve 250,000 customers – to a separate supermarket chain, it is understood.
As well as struggling to find in-demand items, shoppers could also see their grocery bills rise as haulage firms increase wages in an effort to attract more drivers.
John Lucy, head of international transport at the Road Haulage Association, estimates the deficit of drivers is in the region of 65,000, and has appealed to the Home Office to add HGV drivers to its skilled worker shortage occupation list, making it easier for applicants to come to the UK for work.
“We need to access more drivers from all over the world,” Mr Lucy said.
“I’d expect prices in general will increase… all supply chain costs get passed on eventually to [the] end buyer.”
The Home Office said in a statement: “Employers should focus on investing in our domestic workforce, especially those needing to find new employment, rather than relying on labour from abroad.
“The Government is working with the haulage sector to promote jobs, training and a range of other initiatives to get more people into HGV driving.”
- ^ Brexit (inews.co.uk)
- ^ introduction of IR35 tax changes in April (inews.co.uk)
- ^ deliveries are not going to supermarkets (inews.co.uk)
- ^ UK food and drink exports to EU dive by 75% after Brexit, with chocolate, whisky and cheese among worst hit (inews.co.uk)
- ^ A branch of Budgens, in Great Blackenham, Ipswich, (www.facebook.com)
- ^ @kt_grant (twitter.com)
- Mystic Moments Melt and Pour Soap Base Clear SLS FREE – 2Kg
RRP PRICE: £13.45SALE PRICE: £12.99YOU SAVE: £0.46 Melt and Pour Soap Base Clear 2Kg SLS FREE Biodegradable 100% Vegetable Base Paraben Free Check […]
- Expandable Garden Hose Pipe 100 FT，Solid Brass Fittings- Flexible Expanding...
SALE PRICE: £19.69YOU SAVE: £9.30 Lightweight Garden Hose: The flexible expanding water hose uses a high-density triple-layer latex core and a […]
- 1kg Grass Seed Covers up to 35 m2 (375 ft2) New Lawns – Premium Quality Seed...
RRP PRICE: £13.00SALE PRICE: £11.99YOU SAVE: £1.01 About this item QUALITY & QUICK: #1 Best Seller. Premium quality and quick to establish […]
- Sony MDR-XB50AP In-Ear Extra Bass Headphones with In-Line Control – Blue
RRP PRICE: £29.99SALE PRICE: £22.00YOU SAVE: £7.99 About this item This fits your . by entering your model number. Enjoy enhanced sound […]