HGV shortages: 'Buy early for Christmas' advises expert
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With Britain already seeing huge disruption to supplies of petrol and gaps on supermarket shelves, could queues and rationing start forming in the aisles over the shiny treats in purple boxes? Nestlé’s Chief Executive, Mark Schneider told the BBC: “Like other businesses, we are seeing some labour shortages and some transportation issues, but it’s our UK team’s top priority to work constructively with retailers to supply them.”
Britain’s leading food supplies have warned of other food shortages, with the owner of Bernard Matthews, Ranjit Singh Boparan saying Christmas turkeys could also be in very short supply for similar reasons.
Nick Allen, the chief executive of the British Meat Processors Association placed some of the blame on a shortage of labour following Brexit.
Speaking to Sky News, Mr Allen said: “We’re not saying there’s not going to be food on the table at Christmas, but we’re struggling to put party food together – the pigs in blankets, the netting of gammons.”
Such is the panic that Christmas supplies will fall short, frozen specialist supermarket Iceland reported a 409 percent increase in frozen turkey sales amid warning by the government of food shortages, and a “winter of discontent”.
Similar reports have emerged from other leading supermarkets, with Waitrose claiming that 112,000 people have pre-booked Christmas delivery slots, almost double the amount year on year.
A Nestlé spokesman added: “Like all businesses, we are managing a number of challenges at the moment, but we are working hard to mitigate those issues, and are not seeing, or expecting, a material impact on supply.”
Speaking of the UK’s production of the family favourite, he added: “Our factory in Halifax manufactures up to 12 million Quality Street sweets every day, and there will be plenty to go around this Christmas.”
With supply issues affecting fuel, the introduction of army drivers has been introduced to ease the pain of queuing motorists.
Acknowledging the short supply of HGV drivers, the Government’s recent visa scheme to bring in 5,000 foreign lorry drivers into the UK has been met with criticism within Britain, and snubs of laughter by EU based drivers, claiming the shortage was self-induced.
With the rest of Europe also complaining of HGV drivers and shortages of staff, of the 300 tanker visas offered, only 127 were issued, confirming that the shortage of drivers is wider than the UK.
The Prime Minister said that the shortage of drivers was because “the supply chain problem was caused largely by the strength of the economic recovery.”
Just last year, Quality Street reported another “chocolate crisis” when COVID0-19 was blamed for missing Chocolate Caramel Brownie sweets, resulting in the company issuing a statement on the issue.
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“In order to keep Quality Street production going during the COVID-19 lockdown period, we made some temporary changes to the way we operated, such as running fewer lines for a time,” a spokesman for Nestlé said.
With Christmas fast approaching, and many still unsure of whether supplies will be provided to stores and supermarkets, panic buying may set in, with similar examples having been observed in the past over certain goods.
With tins of chocolate now potentially on the list of goods in high demand, Christmas shoppers will want to make sure that supplies are in on time, and that the ‘Big Purple One’ finds its way into the homes of Britain over the festive period.
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