For shoppers, the sight of the pingemic-related gaps on the shelves of their local supermarkets will be a worrying reminder of their experience in the early weeks of the pandemic when panic buys empty food stores.
How does the test and traceability system affect supermarkets?
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) on Thursday added its voice to the chorus of business bodies and business leaders warning that staff shortages, caused by the large number of healthy workers isolating themselves after being surveyed by NHS testing and traceability, were putting increasing pressure on the ability of retailers to maintain opening hours and stock shelves.
The picture of staff absences is uneven, with some retailers reporting that 30% of workers are absent in some areas. However, the average rate would be closer to 10% (which is well below the levels of absence seen at the height of the health crisis last year).
This is not just a problem for traders. It disrupts the factories, including bakeries and meat processing plants, that make the food they sell. The British Meat Processors Association said a shortage of workers meant some factories were struggling to fill one in six jobs even before the pingemia, which had now forced between 5 and 10% of their workforce to shut down. isolate.
Are there other factors affecting the food supply?
Yes. Some analysts say a chronic shortage of truck drivers is the crux of the matter, with the situation exacerbated by truck drivers who are nuts. Logistics UK estimates that 90,000 truck drivers are missing, a figure that includes 25,000 EU truckers who returned home after Brexit. This shortage also affects the ability of suppliers to deliver inventory to supermarket depots.
Which foods are affected?
The image of product shortages is described as uneven by supermarkets. There is also the impact of soaring temperatures on shopping habits as Britons flock to buy popsicles, soft drinks, bottled water, beer and salad. With the school holidays underway, the millions of additional restaurateurs who would normally be in Spain or France are adding to the pressure on supplying supermarkets in holiday hot spots like Cornwall. These vacationers of course include retail workers taking a well-deserved summer break, which means this is a time of year when, like many businesses, the workforce is depleted anyway.
What are we doing to avoid shortages?
The BRC argues that retail workers and suppliers should be allowed to work as long as they are double vaccinated or can test negative for Covid. In the meantime, traders have started to recruit thousands of temporary workers for the summer. The government has said some industries will be able to request exemptions for personnel, but it has yet to release its guidelines. He also announced a consultation to allow drivers to take a test to drive articulated and rigid trucks to speed up the process of obtaining licenses for all types of heavy goods vehicles.
How serious is the threat to the food supply?
Food industry sources insist that product shortages are not of the order of those seen last year, when shoppers bought three times as much as usual. Tesco and Sainsburys, the UK’s two largest supermarket chains, have both sought to reassure shoppers that they have plenty of food. Sainsburys adds that while it may not always have the exact product that a customer is looking for in every store, large quantities of product are delivered to stores daily.
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