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Trucker shortage could lead to drink supply issues in the UK this Christmas

49 leading companies wrote to the British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps about the issue.

Image: Shutterstock/Yulia Grigoryeva

ALCOHLIC DRINKS INCLUDING champagne could be scarce in Britain due to its lorry driver shortage, the drinks sector warned the British Government, urging intervention.

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) said in a statement that the British government must take more “immediate steps” to address the shortages, caused by Brexit-related shortages, and prevent more empty shelves.

“Businesses are still struggling, and further action is needed, particularly now in the run up to Christmas – a critical trading period for our sector,” the sector body wrote in an open letter to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

It said that businesses who had previously been able to fulfil orders in two to three days are now experiencing shipments taking 15 days to process. Costs have increased by around at least 7% by freight forwarders to account for driver retention.

The letter, organised by the trade body, was signed by 49 leading companies including the UK divisions of champagne giants Laurent-Perrier, Moët Hennessy and Pernod Ricard.

The signatories added that shipping times were currently up to five times longer than the same stage one year ago.

“Drivers and vehicles are increasingly unpredictable in their arrival times, meaning goods are either not ready or are left waiting for collection,” the letter continued.

“As a particularly competitive industry, the inability to fulfil orders in a timely manner can result in the loss of business, as products can be easily replaced by comparable products from elsewhere in the world.”

The letter said government taxation revenues would ultimately be hit — along with consumers who are already face soaring consumer price inflation.

“While businesses are doing their best and being as flexible as they can, this loss of certainty and predictability is hugely damaging for their supply chain — and ultimately their bottom line, consumers, and tax revenue,” it said.

“There is only so much businesses can do without having to increase costs for consumers.”

Britain faces a worsening supply chain crisis due to Brexit and Covid, from backlogs in shipments to shortages of lorry drivers.

Resurgent demand from reopening global economies has created supply bottlenecks, while tougher immigration rules and bureaucracy for foreign workers have sparked crippling staffing issues.

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© – AFP, 2021

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