The largest stores say the situation is just about manageable – but could get worse unless government can do something to help with the HGV driver shortage and energy crisis
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Morrisons and Sainsbury’s warn there could be shortages over the next few weeks unless government steps in to help out supermarkets.
These supermarkets and their suppliers are grappling with several issues that can mean a lack of goods in stores.
Even the Prime Minister has admitted the food sector was struggling from a lack of hauliers and soaring global gas demand as the world emerges from the pandemic.
The Mirror asked the six biggest supermarkets how likely shortages were so shoppers know what to expect.
In short, they say they’re not reporting gaps on shelves just yet, but that the problem could escalate.
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A spokesperson for the supermarket said it would not comment but instead echo a statement from the British Retail Consortium (BRC), a trade body for shops.
A BRC spokesperson said: “We will have to see what happens over the next few weeks. If government doesn’t intervene, especially with HGV drivers, then there could be some availability issues in stores.”
But a person close to Morrisons did say a lack of CO2 was “tight but manageable” at the supermarket.
The supermarket also backed the BRC – meaning no shortages yet, but some possible without help.
A Tesco spokesperson would not comment on shortages, but a well-placed source said the supermarket had “good availability in stores and online”.
The source added: “Our frozen deliveries do not use dry ice and are operating as normal. We’re liaising with the government to understand their plans and we will continue to monitor the situation.”
But the chairman of Tesco, John Allan, has already urged people not to panic-buy.
Aldi, Asda and Lidl have been approached for comment.
But the supermarkets seem to be putting on a brave face, as shoppers are already reporting shortages.
Yesterday Iceland managing director Richard Walker said that food shortages could happen in just weeks.
Brits have been told a frugal Christmas is possible, with turkeys and toys in short supply – along with empty supermarket shelves and rising living costs.
But Walker said: “This is no longer about whether or not Christmas will be OK, it’s about keeping the wheels turning and the lights on so we can actually get to Christmas.
“This could become a problem over the coming days and weeks, so this is not an issue that’s months away.”
Last week Walker said Iceland has been forced to cancel 250 store deliveries a week as it is caught up in a national shortage of lorry drivers.
This is a 15% fall in the normal level of deliveries, and is happening because Iceland has vacancies for 100 drivers.
To help ease the problem, some of Iceland’s six distribution centres have started using ‘class 2’ drivers rather than HGV drivers.