Home Brexit Food ‘shortages are at a worse level’ ever seen amid Brexit and Covid, says Co-op chief

Food ‘shortages are at a worse level’ ever seen amid Brexit and Covid, says Co-op chief

25th Aug 21 10:38 am

The chief executive of Co-op, Steve Murrells has said the current food shortages are the “worst” he has ever seen.

Brexit and coronavirus which is causing staffing problems is creating severe problems for many supermarkets and other food outlets.

Speaking to The Times, Murrells said, “The shortages are at a worse level than at any time I have seen” and blamed “Brexit and issues caused by Covid” which has helped fuel the crisis.

The Co-op has 4,000 stores across the UK and are now training staff to become lorry drivers in an attempt to help the issues surrounding the supply chain.

The pingdemic has put thousands of lorry drivers into self-isolation and also due to lockdowns over the last year this has also contributed to thousands of people being unable to take their HGV tests.

The British Army have placed around 2,000 soldiers “on standby” who have a HGV license to deliver food and other supplies to supermarkets, due to a shortage of 100,000 lorry drivers.

There could also be severe shortages in the UK for chips and roast potatoes in the UK also due to Brexit, labour shortages and devastating floods in Europe, inflation and the pandemic.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, warned that consumers will ultimately suffer due to the problems.

“So far, disruption has been minimal thanks to the incredible work by retailers and their suppliers,” she said.

“Retailers are increasing pay rates, offering bonuses and introducing new driver training schemes, as well as directly supporting their suppliers in the movement of goods, but government will need to play its part.

“We are calling on the government to rapidly increase the number of HGV driving tests taking place, provide temporary visas for EU drivers, and to make changes on how HGV driver training can be funded.”

The PA news agency was told by a poultry industry source that the government was warned last month that the food supply chain would be hit due to EU worker rules and logistic issues.

The source said, “We raised this issue with government many weeks ago and nothing significant has happened since, so it is clearly not going away.

“We need new workers to come on board to cope with this demand, and while Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) have been helpful, the issue is with the Home Office.

“There are shortages fluctuating between 10% and 20% of staff, so we need some emergency changes get workers overseas who can fill this gap.”

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