The United Kingdom is seeing shortages in the labour force in the food industry. This has caused supply-chain issues and the food and farming sectors are warning of shortages in the run-up to Christmas.

At the core of the issue is man force. Research by YouGov says that 56% of British shoppers had experienced food shortages in their local supermarkets, while 39% had not, and 5% said they didn’t know. The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) warned that worker shortages which continue to hamper supply chains across the UK could last for up to two years. The Food and Drink Federation says the challenges could become permanent. The UK government, however, has denied that there will be permanent shortages.

In August, McDonald’s stopped selling milkshakes as food chain, Nando’s, had to close down a few of its outlets in the UK after it ran out of chicken. 

Experts identify Brexit and COVID-19 as two major reasons behind the shortages. 

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) had called for urgent government intervention to ease the driver shortages in April. 

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In a statement, the RHA said, “The situation was critical even before the pandemic with many EU truckers heading home for obvious Brexit-related reasons. Add to that the complete failure to test new drivers during lockdown which left a backlog of thousands of tests – and potential drivers sidelined. Covid-19 saw the introduction of IR35 delayed by one year but it’s now hitting many firms and drivers.”

In August, the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) announced that staff and skills shortages were continuing to hamper food production, and that many meat companies were already about six weeks behind on their Christmas production schedules.

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Britain, on Tuesday, announced that it is delaying the start of post-Brexit border checks on food imports from the European Union, saying trade disruption from the coronavirus pandemic has already piled pressure on businesses.

The delay means paperwork and checks for EU agricultural and animal products that were due to start from October won’t be introduced until next year.

The UK said the “pragmatic new timetable” would ease pressure on businesses grappling with supply chain disruptions from the pandemic

Since Britain left the EU’s single market at the end of 2020, imports from the bloc are supposed to be subject to the same checks as goods from everywhere else in the world.

With inputs from the Associated Press