Tesco has warned that due to HGV driver shortages shoppers may see empty shelves in the run up to Christmas.
The supermarket chain warned panic buying could return with Brits stockpiling more than they did in March 2020 when the pandemic started.
In a letter seen by The Grocer, Tesco said the supply chain will be “critically damaged beyond recovery if it cannot overcome the immediate crisis.”
Industry bosses have called on the government to allow a 1-year “Covid recovery visa” which will allow companies to employ people from abroad for “critical roles” which would help with staff shortages in the short term.
A letter which was signed by 12 food industry bodies is urging the Prime Minister Boris Johnson to “save Christmas.”
MPs have been asked to bring in workers from abroad which would most certainly help solve the “industry-wide” issues last Thursday.
Tesco are offering £1,000 for recruitment bonuses and they currently have 800 HGV driver vacancies open.
Andrew Woolfenden, Tesco’s UK distribution and fulfilment director, said its “like moving deckchairs around” as companies are trying to recruit from the same pool of lorry drivers.
Speaking on a call, Woolfenden added, “Our concern is that the pictures of empty shelves will get ten times worse by Christmas and then we’ll get panic-buying.”
A Tesco spokesperson said, “While the industry-wide shortage of HGV drivers has led to some distribution challenges, we’re working hard to address these and to plan for the months ahead, so that customers can get everything they need.”
A Government spokesperson said, “We recognise business is facing a range of challenges and we are taking steps to support them, including streamlining the process for new HGV drivers and increasing the number of driving tests.
“Progress has already being made in testing and hiring, with improving pay, working conditions and diversity.
“We are closely monitoring labour supply and working with sector leaders to understand how we can best ease particular pinch points.”