MPs have been warned by food and hospitality chiefs there are “no guarantees” for Christmas deliveries as there is “acute” warehouse staffing issues.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) select committee questioned industry chiefs of staffing shortages in the supply chain and food sector.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of trade body UKHospitality told MPs there is around 200,000 staff shortages across the UK and the sector has been hit by a “double whammy” of shortages in their own venues plus shortages in the supply chain.
Nicholls warned that this means hospitality operators are going to struggle to provide customers with the service they “would like” over the festive period.
She said, “I don’t think we can give the hospitality we would like to around Christmas because we would like to be operating at full strength and full capacity and not turning away business.
“In our supply chain, we are getting around 80% fulfilment. So, 20% of all products in all deliveries are not being delivered and we can’t really say what it is.
“Our supply chain cannot give us any guarantees at the moment about Christmas deliveries and that everything will be delivered at the right place, at the right time and at the right price.”
Inflation is also weighing down on the sector and the hospitality industry has already had many cancellations for Christmas bookings as result of price increases.
Nicholls told MPs, “You are going to see a really intense squeeze on margins in the run up to Christmas and then the inevitable impact that will be felt by consumers, is there will be significant cost inflation coming through the supply chain and coming through to consumers, most likely after Christmas.
“But some businesses have said they are foreseeing three sets of price increases by April.”
Tom Southall, policy director at the Cold Chain Federation, warned that warehouse staff shortages is concerning ahead of Christmas.
He said, “It is particularly in warehousing that we are concerned about at the moment.
“We are having reports from members that warehousing is becoming quite an acute issue in the run up to Christmas.
“It’s a bit more tricky to understand shortage rates there, but between 10% and 20% are some of the figures we have been quoted there.”