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25 July, 2024
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Fears of panic buying in the UK ahead of the Christmas season

Warnings of food shortages due to problems in the supply chain

Source: CNA

Fears of panic shopping ahead of Christmas are being raised by market chains in Britain. They warn of food shortages on the shelves, which they attribute to problems in staffing key jobs in the supply chain.

The concerns were conveyed in a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson by the head of the National Farmers' Union, Minet Butters, on behalf of many actors in the food and beverage trade chain.

The letter notes the shortage of workers in agricultural, truck drivers and retail stores; shortages that have become more acute due to the pandemic and Brexit.

Due to Brexit, European workers can no longer easily come to the UK for work, and the pandemic has led many foreigners to return home.

In her letter, Ms Butters called on the government to approve an emergency work visa program so that British companies can hire staff from abroad.

"Without it, more shelves will be left empty and consumers will panic to try to get through the winter," the letter to Johnson said. "That's why we need an urgent commitment from you so that the industry can hire staff from outside the UK over the next 12 months to spend the winter and help us save Christmas," Ms Butters added.

She notes that food producers, ranging from fruits and vegetables to poultry and meat, are forced to let them rot and be discarded because there is no staff to pick them up, pack them, process them or transport them to the consumer. . "This is a parody," she says.

The National Farmers' Union reports that of the seasonal workers in the sector in 2020, only 11% were UK residents.

Due to Brexit, European workers can no longer easily come to the UK for work, and the pandemic has led many foreigners to return home.

The government responded by noting that the six-month visa available to seasonal workers have tripled to 30,000 this year as part of a pilot program, and that the market supply chain is "extremely resilient".

Fears of food shortages have been heightened by rising gas costs on the wholesale market, which has led to the temporary closure of Britain's two largest coal-fired plants. Gas plays a critical role in food preservation and transportation, among other things.

The government has agreed to financially support CF Industries, which owns the two plants, so that at least one of them can be reopened. Emergency support, however, covers a period of three weeks.

Meanwhile, in a statement to the British media, the heads of large supermarket chains in the country, such as Tesco and Iceland, urge their customers not to panic, but acknowledged that there may still be some temporarily empty shelves for some products.

Tesco President John Allan also warned that food prices could rise by about 5%, which attributed the "perfect storm" of truck drivers' shortages to carbon shortages on the market, a combination that limits availability.

Cyprus  |  UK  |  panic  |  christmas

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