Wholesalers have warned that a countrywide lack of lorry drivers might lead to an increase in food costs.
According to the BBC, Darren Labbett, managing director of Woods Foodservice, his sector is facing a “perfect storm” of negative consequences.
“We have the Brexit issue and the pandemic’s after-effects colliding at the same moment,” he continued.
Mr Labbett claimed that the price of vegetable oil had reached a 30-year high due to increased shipping costs and demand.
“The demand for everything soared through the sky overnight as we got out of lockdown,” he added.
Mr Labbett went on to say that wholesalers were “doing our hardest” to absorb the additional expenses rather than pass them on to customers, but that “we can’t absorb those price rises forever.”
According to James Bielby, CEO of the Federation of Wholesale Distributors, which represents around 600 wholesale companies, there are “chronic” personnel shortages throughout the food and beverage supply chain, with up to half a million job openings.
“As a result, all firms – farmers, processors, distributors, and manufacturers – must give incentives to keep and recruit workers, and prices are growing,” he told the BBC.
“Under these conditions, some of these cost increases will inevitably be transmitted through the supply chain, resulting in food price inflation.”
Many firms have expressed their dissatisfaction with the UK’s lorry driver shortage, which continues to wreak havoc on supply chains.
A shortage of trained drivers has been exacerbated by the coronavirus epidemic, Brexit, and tax reforms. According to industry groups, there is a 100,000-person labor shortage.
Food manufacturing is under severe strain due to shortages of HGV drivers and other supply chain staff, according to Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, who told the UK Trade and Business Commission on Thursday that some production may have to move out of the UK.
Richard Harrow, chief executive of the British Frozen Food Federation, told the commission that he was worried that smaller food businesses such as wholesalers and caterers were losing out because haulage companies had to prioritize larger clients such as supermarkets.
“Many wholesalers saw their companies go down when the restaurant sector shut down during the epidemic, and they had a really tough period,” he added. “Now they’re coming out of it and seeing a lot of demand, but they’re having trouble finding drivers and getting deliveries.”
“If you’re a haulage firm with a limited number of drivers, you’ll go where the job is easiest.” “If you’re then requested to drop a lot of different pallets in different places to smaller wholesalers, that checks the ‘too tough to accomplish’ box,” Mr Harrow continued.
Wholesalers, on the other hand, refer to a variety of other issues that are threatening to raise prices.
Brexit, according to David Josephs, owner of All Greens Wholesale, a fruit and vegetable importer and distributor in London, was the most significant source of increased expenses for his company.
“We have an operation out of Milan, and we ship twice a week, and just those two shipments a week going out of Milan, the paperwork, just the paperwork, costs us an extra €52,000 (£44,650) a year,” he told news outlets.
“However, farmers across Europe have been hampered by labor shortages, and as a result, commodities have not been plucked out of the ground, resulting in a scarcity.”
Crop yields have also been decreased as a result of the bad weather, he noted.