Empty Christmas shelves in UK
Covid has created supply problems in all industries all over the world the past year. The combination of Brexit in the UK and Covid triples the challenges. Iceland, the frozen food chain in the UK, warns that there may be empty shelves for Christmas.
Iceland is warning that UK food supplies will be under threat long before Christmas and could start affecting stocks if carbon dioxide shortages continue.
The frozen food retailer’s managing director, Richard Walker says that while concerns have been raised about how CO2 shortages might harm Christmas food supplies, the problem – which has been intensified by the shortage of truck and trailer drivers – could affect supermarkets much sooner.
“This is no longer about whether or not Christmas will be okay, it’s about keeping the wheels turning and the lights on so we can actually get to Christmas,” Walker tells BBC Radio.
“This could become a problem over the coming days and weeks, so this is this is not an issue that’s months away,” he says.
The shortage has been sparked by record energy prices, which forced two US-owned fertilizer plants in the north of England that produce 60 per cent of the UK’s carbon dioxide (CO2) supplies to shut down last week.
CO2 is widely used in fizzy drinks and beer as well as in the meat industry to stun animals before slaughter. It is also used to create dry ice, which keeps food fresh for storage and transport.
Walker says Iceland is building up its stocks on key items such as meat, to make sure Iceland can deal with any unforeseen issues.
- Iceland boss warns of UK food supply shortage
- Food supplies could start affecting stocks if carbon dioxide shortages continue
- Concerns have been raised about how CO2 shortages might harm Christmas food supplies
Iceland cancels 250 store deliveries a week amid driver shortages
Iceland has been forced to cancel 250 store deliveries a week as it is caught up in a national shortage of lorry drivers. This is a 15 per cent fall in the normal level of deliveries and is happening because Iceland has vacancies for 100 drivers.
Nationwide, the UK is currently short of at least 100,000 HGV (Heavy Goods Vehicle) drivers, according to Retail Gazette, a retail business news site.
Walker says if the government doesn’t act now the UK will see large gaps on supermarket shelves in the run-up to Christmas this year.
To help ease the problem, some of Iceland’s six distribution centres have started using class 2 drivers rather than HGV drivers. Class 2 licenses allow drivers to handle smaller and more rigid lorries, while class 1 drivers operate larger HGVs.