The food sector in the UK continues to face staffing shortages of food manufacturing workers, farm staff, lorry drivers, and other key food workers in what some are describing as “the perfect storm of Brexit and Covid-19” that continues to cause disruption and supply issues across the F&B industry.
Restaurants, along with retail grocers and producers are having problems caused by worker shortages, which are being blamed on Covid-related staff absences along with the loss of European Union workers leaving the country following Brexit.
CNN reported today that the shortages at UK food producers and supermarkets have warned that empty shelves could persist through the year-end holiday season unless the government acts to ease a shortage of workers and truck drivers caused by Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic.
Fast-food chain McDonald’s has taken milkshakes off its menu in the United Kingdom due to supply issues while popular restaurant Nando’s has closed 45 locations due to shortages of its signature dish peri peri chicken.
The problem could extend all the way to Christmas with suppliers warning of further disruption that could affect the availability of holiday staples such as turkey and ham. This season marks the first Christmas after Brexit took full effect.
Chicken production across the nation has already been cut by 10%, according to the British Poultry Council, which added that 16% of industry jobs are not currently filled. The industry group estimates Christmas turkey production will be cut by a fifth.
“When you don’t have people, you have a problem — and this is something we are seeing across the whole supply chain. The labor crisis is a Brexit issue, and one that has been widely reported across the food and drink sector,” Richard Griffiths, chief executive of the British Poultry Council, said in a statement.
Richard Walker, the managing director of supermarket chain Iceland, told BBC Radio: “The shortages consumers are seeing from the likes of Nando’s and McDonald’s in recent days and weeks highlight the immense impact this [truck driver shortage] is having on businesses. “The real worry is that time is quickly running out as we approach the extremely busy Christmas period, during which a strong supply chain is vital for everyone.”