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Britons set to face ‘permanent shortages’ in supermarkets, trade body warns

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The photo shows empty shelves and signs on the soft drinks aisle of a Sainsbury's store in Rowley Regis in the West Midlands, England, July 22, 2021. (By AP)

Food shortages in supermarkets are likely to last ‘forever’ in Britain and products will not be as widely available as before the coronavirus pandemic, a leading industry figure has warned.

Speaking at an event organized by the Institute for Government (IfG) think-tank on Friday, Ian Wright, the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) chief executive, said the labor shortages in the industry has caused the UK consumers to face with a lack of products.

“It’s going to get worse, and it’s not going to get better after getting worse any time soon,” Wright said, adding that “the result of the labor shortages is that the just-in-time system that has sustained supermarkets, convenience stores and restaurants - so the food has arrived on shelf or in the kitchen, just when you need it - is no longer working.”

Many businesses have reported huge issues regarding their supply chains in recent months, leaving some supermarket shelves empty, or forcing restaurants to eliminate some of the items from their menus.

Warning about the permanent effects of the crisis, Wright said, “I don’t think it will work again, I think we will see we are now in for permanent shortages.”

The UK food and drink industry is lower than half a million workers, Wright told the IfG, meaning that an eighth of its workforce is missing.

Furthermore, a severe shortage of lorry drivers, which has been deepened by both the pandemic and the Brexit, has affected several businesses, including meat processors and fruit farms and McDonald’s that ran out of milkshakes last month.

In recent weeks, over a quarter of food and hospitality businesses in the UK have been impacted by stock shortages, with shoppers being told to expect higher prices.

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