The fresh produce industry has warned that the shortage of lorry drivers is leading to rotting produce and empty shelves, while retailers have warned that prices may rise due to the issue.
According to The Mirror, fresh fruit and vegetables are rotting at New Covent Garden market due to the UK’s lorry driver shortage. Jason Tanner, director of wholesaler Premier Fruits said, “Around 20 to 25 per cent of all produce that comes in is being wasted. Normally we would waste less than 5 per cent. It’s primarily caused by the driver shortage. Our sales and turnover have gone from 30 per cent in March to 80 per cent now (but) the drivers have not come back. If you have a driver who doesn’t turn up and if the product is just sitting in the sun, it rots and we have to throw it out before we can get it on a vehicle.”
A report in The Grocer added that hauliers are ‘boycotting’ Lidl due to its inflexibility in the face of the driver shortages. A director of a haulage company said the company “was not listening” to hauliers. “If you prioritise who you want to do and who you don’t, then Lidl always falls at the bottom of the list,” they said, with the result being a shortage of vegetables, bread, and toilet roll in the retailer.
Supermarkets are passing additional collection costs onto their suppliers, the magazine reported. Sainsbury’s and Tesco are among retailers who have informed suppliers of forthcoming price hikes of up to 14 per cent due to driver shortages. Commenting on the move, Ged Futter, director of consultancy The Retail Mind, said, “These costs are going straight back to the supermarket buyers. If retailers want to put up costs in two weeks that’s fine, but their costs will then go up in two weeks as well.”
Photo source: University of York