UK set for ‘permanent food shortages’ with worst yet to come, expert warns

·2-min read

The UK will have to get used to permanent food shortages, a hospitality expert has warned on Friday.

With some beers running dry in Wetherspoons, Nando’s chicken stocks taking a serious hit and the great McShortage of milkshakes, Brits may be forgiven for thinking the worst was over.

But Ian Wright, outgoing chief executive of the Food and Drink Federation, warned supply issues have hit supermarkets and high street favourites are “going to get worse” with a shortage of half a million food and drink workers.

Nando’s in White City, Manchester (Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Wire)
Nando’s in White City, Manchester (Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Wire)

Mr Wright stressed “these shortages don’t mean you’re going to run out of food”.

But he gave the example shoppers could get used to no bottled water being available in the whole of eastern England.

He added: “The UK shopper could have previously expected just about every product they want to be on shelf or in the restaurant all the time.

“That’s over and I don’t think it’s coming back.”

Mr Wright said Brexit had been one factor in supply issues but wider “structural changes” are to blame.

The expert claimed around 1.4million people, largely EU nationals, left the UK when the pandemic hit and he even said the figure could have soared to 2.5million.

He warned: “It’s going to get worse - and it’s not going to get better after getting worse any time soon.”

No 10 said it “believes” shop stock levels could return to “normal” by Christmas amid a shortage of lorry drivers.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister addressed this when asked whether Boris Johnson agreed with the Food and Drink Federation’s assessment that the current supply chain issues being experienced could become permanent.

“We don’t recognise those claims,” a spokesperson for the PM said.

“We have got highly resilient food supply chains which have coped extremely well in the face of challenges and we believe that will remain the case.”

Pressed on whether people will have a “normal Christmas”, Mr Johnson’s spokesman said: “I believe so, yes.”

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