Wetherspoons joins Costa, Pizza Hut and Toby Carvery in latest food shortage nightmare

BBC News: Possible food shortages at Christmas

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The pandemic and Brexit related issues has caused there to be a huge shortage in HGV drivers. A Road Haulage Association (RHA) survey of its members estimates that there is now a shortage of more than 100,000 drivers in the UK, out of a pre-pandemic total of about 600,000.

The shortage of drivers has led to several companies missing out on deliveries, with supermarkets experiencing bottled water shortages as well as Diet Coke.

Coca Cola Europacific Partners said it was working “flat out” to meet the demand.

Fast-food chains have also been hit, with Nando’s running out of chicken and McDonald’s stopping its milkshakes.

Wetherspoon is the latest company to be hit by supply chain related issues.

A spokesperson said: “We are experiencing some supply problems with both Carling and Coors, which means that some pubs do not have the products available.

“We apologise to our customers for any inconvenience caused.

“We know that the brewers are trying to resolve the issue.”

The pub chain added that there had been problems with Heineken and Molson Coors deliveries.

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Molson Coors, which owns Carling and Coors, said in a statement: “Like many in our great British brewing and pub sector, we have been hit by the HGV driver shortage.

“While our overall availability is good, there are intermittent pockets of pressure in our supply network that are unfortunately affecting a number of Wetherspoons pubs.

“After such a difficult period for our industry, it’s heartbreaking to be letting any customer down and we will continue to do everything in our power to get our much-loved brands back on every Wetherspoons bar.”

Taking to Twitter to share their thoughts, customers were not impressed with the shortage.

One person said: “This is not good, it’s just coming up to the weekend as well.”

Another wrote: “My local spoons is running low and it’s so bad to see, we could have prevented this.”

“More people need to be training to learn how to drive a HGV,” a third commented.

Mitchells and Butler, which runs more than a dozen brands including Toby Carvery, has also experienced food shortages.

Some of its Toby restaurants reported no Yorkshire puddings over the weekend in certain branches.

A spokesperson for the chain said: “Like the rest of retail (supermarkets included) we are seeing sporadic shortages caused by driver shortages, exacerbated by absences caused by Covid pings.

“We are hopeful that the new rules that apply to fully vaccinated workers will help ease the situation in the short term.”

Pizza Hut also wanted customers that there were no kids’ desserts, with some branches also running low on dough and fizzy drinks.

A spokesperson explained: “Like other businesses in the UK, Pizza Hut Restaurants faces a complicated situation as we manage pandemic-related issues, including a supply chain affected but the shortage in HGV drivers.

“We are working with our suppliers and partners to limit disruption for our customers at this time.”

One notice in Norwich states that there was no stuffed crust or cheesy bites bases available, while the ice cream factory and all cookie dough puddings were off the menu too.

Costa Coffee has also been hit by supply woes with the company announcing they are struggling to keep up with demand.

Decaffeinated coffee is unavailable in some stores while the much-loved strawberry lemonade is also off the menu in some of its stores.

The company added: “A number of our stores are experiencing issues due to supplier/delivery problems caused by the pandemic.

“We’re working closely with our suppliers to get this sorted ASAP.”

A Government spokesperson said: “We’re working closely with industry to address sector challenges, which are similarly being faced by other countries around the world.

“This includes plans to streamline the process for new drivers to gain their HGV licence and to increase the number of driving tests able to be conducted.

“We want to see employers make long-term investments in the UK domestic workforce and make employment more attractive through offering training, career options and wage increases.”

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