Original article from Kent Live
Shoppers are being urged not to panic buy after noticing some supermarkets aren’t as well stocked as normal – but what is causing gaps in shelves?
One issue is a lack of HGV drivers, which Tesco says is creating 48 tonnes of food waste each week as fresh goods destined for its stores is being left to rot.
Sainsbury’s has also hiked its distribution rates due to the HGV chaos.
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Other problems affecting some supermarkets include the coronavirus crisis and Brexit.
Last month, the Road Haulage Association (RHA) warned how supermarkets are already saying they’re not receiving their expected food stocks.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has also acknowledged industry-wide problems but said stores are working closely with suppliers so customers can still buy what they need.
We explain what is causing disruption to some supplies.
HGV driver shortage, Brexit and coronavirus
The RHA estimates there is currently a shortfall of up to 100,000 lorry drivers in the UK – with a combination of Covid, Brexit and other factors being blamed.
The coronavirus pandemic has seen travel become extremely restricted, and haulage companies say European drivers have simply decided not to return to the UK due to Covid-19 and Brexit.
There is also understood to be a large backlog in HGV driver tests, again because of the pandemic, meaning it's been harder to get new drivers on the road.
Finally, the reopening of shops means there is an increase in demand for some goods, which is adding to the need for drivers and deliveries.
The RHA has called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to take action on the HGV driver shortage.
In response, the government says it has ramped up testing for lorry drivers, is paying for more apprentices and is allowing current drivers to increase their working hours.
The new rules mean drivers can increase their daily driving limit twice a week from nine hours to 11 hours.
Even before Covid, the estimated shortage of drivers was about 60,000.
There has also been rising numbers of staff – including manufacturers in factories and HGV drivers – having to stay home after being told to self-isolate due to the NHS Test and Trace app.
Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said: “Retailers are aware of a fall in HGV driver numbers, resulting in minor disruption to some supply chains.
“This has been exacerbated by the rising case numbers resulting in drivers being forced to self-isolate."
M&S this week also warned the "pingdemic" could see it close stores temporarily if it doesn't have enough workers to keep them open.
Other circumstances that have been blamed on causing delays include the earlier blockage of the Suez Canal.