McDonald's runs out of milkshakes as supply issues bite

McDonald's has been forced to pull milkshakes and bottled drinks from its menu due to supply chain issues, it said in a statement on Monday night.

The fast food chain, which operates some 1,300 restaurants across the UK, has become the latest victim of supply chain disruptions that are currently roiling England, Scotland, and Wales.

This summer, the UK has been hit by a shortage of lorry drivers, a crisis that has affected supermarkets, restaurants, and other retailers.

There is estimated to be a shortfall of around 100,000 drivers - triggered by an exodus of foreign nationals, post-Brexit immigration rules, and self-isolation requirements.

In a statement, McDonald's said that bottled drinks and milkshakes would temporarily be unavailable at all of its stores across the country.

"Like most retailers, we are currently experiencing some supply chain issues, impacting the availability of a small number of products," the company said.

"Bottled drinks and milkshakes are temporarily unavailable in restaurants across England, Scotland and Wales."

"We apologise for any inconvenience, and thank our customers for their continued patience. We are working hard to return these items to the menu as soon as possible."

Arla Foods, the UK's biggest dairy supplier, said it had been asked by McDonald's to pause production of its milkshake mix to allow the fast-food chain to "assure supply across its broader menu".

"We are ready to support McDonald's as soon as milkshakes return to the menu," Arla said in a statement.

Are other retailers affected?

McDonald's is not the first restaurant chain to be hit by shortages - last week, Nando's was forced to temporarily close around 50 restaurants after suffering supply issues with its chicken.

The group, which operates some 400 sites around the country, also said it would lend some of its staff to its suppliers to help "get things moving" again after its business was rocked by supply chain issues.

Fast food giant KFC said it was also having similar issues, warning that some items would not be available and packaging "may look a bit different to normal".

Richard Griffiths, chief executive of the British Poultry Council, blamed worker shortages following Brexit for the issues the industry is currently facing.

"When you don't have people, you have a problem - and this is something we are seeing across the whole supply chain. The labour crisis is a Brexit issue," Mr Griffiths said.

Supermarkets have also been hit by the HGV shortage - with customers reporting missing products such as sparkling water and milk.

The boss of dairy supplier Arla told Sky News last month that up to a quarter of its supermarket milk deliveries had been unable to get through because of a shortage of lorry drivers.

Arla Foods UK managing director Ash Amirahmadi warned of a "summer of disruption" unless bold action was taken by the government to tackle the problem.

The dairy giant, which supplies milk to about 2,400 stores each day in the UK, had on average failed to deliver to 10% of outlets due to a lack of drivers, although this had risen to a quarter - some 600 shops - at weekends.