"A shocking headline….but true. The acute shortage of HGV drivers is now the direct cause of perfectly good, graded and packed fresh produce being dumped or rotting in cold stores, waiting for wheels to go under it. Supermarket shelves and restaurant plates are going empty – this is a crisis of national importance.
In all my years in fresh produce I’ve never seen anything like this. Example – we supply one of the largest restaurant chains in the UK. It goes without saying how much they’ve suffered throughout the pandemic. However, business is booming for them at the moment. On Sunday, our guy who handles their account received a call from our haulier at 1pm to say that due to a shortage of lorry drivers, they cannot deliver anything to any of the depots for our restaurant customer that evening. We reminded them that all the goods were graded and packed and ready to go. They said they simply could not deliver due to a lack of drivers. After hours of begging and pleading we managed to get them to deliver to one of the eight depots. And we were one of a number of suppliers to the restaurant chain that the haulier was breaking the same bad news to. The restaurant chain went drastically short of fresh produce this weekend.
And this is by no means an isolated incident. It’s happening throughout the industry, every day and across all sectors. I heard of one major supermarket chain which had 22 full loads of produce not delivered this weekend due to the shortage of drivers. Goods are being produced….but not delivered."
On this key Beanstalk Broadcast - to discuss and debate this very serious situation and the possible solutions - are:
John Lucy - Head of International Transport at The Road Haulage Association
Tim O'Malley - Group MD of Nationwide Produce plc
Max MacGillivray - Editor in Chief of Beanstalk Global