Chicken shortage hits PUBS: Suppliers warn UK boozers now face crisis

Chicken shortage hits PUBS: Suppliers warn UK boozers now face wings and thighs crisis that has forced nearly 75 Nando’s to shut and chaos for KFC

  • The British Poultry Council said it had seen production down by up to 10 per cent
  • Insiders called on Boris Johnson to make urgent changes to rules on foreign staff
  • It comes as consumers are being warned there could be empty shelves in shops
  • This came after union said HGV drivers would go on strike over pay discrepancy

Pubs will start running out of chicken because of staff shortages at suppliers and the ‘pingdemic’, experts have warned.

The British Poultry Council said it had seen production slashed by up to 10 per cent among its members due to issues at farms and processing plants.

Insiders called on the government to make urgent changes to the rules on overseas workers to plug the gap.

It comes as consumers are being warned there could be empty shelves in shops after a union said HGV drivers would go on strike over a pay discrepancy.

Up to 1,500 small stores across London and the South East could face delivery shortages after Tesco handed some drivers a £5 pay rise, but less for others.

Earlier this week Nando’s revealed it had been forced to shut almost 75 restaurants due to a lack of chicken.

It blamed the closures on the national shortage of HGV drivers, a staffing crisis and the impact of the ‘pingdemic’ – but sent 70 staff to help suppliers.

A sign on the doors of a branch of Nando’s in White City, Manchester, telling customers that the store is temporarily closed

The British Poultry Council said it had seen production slashed by up to 10 per cent among its members due to issues at farms and processing plants (file photo)

But now experts raised fears chicken could also be slashed at pubs as well as restaurants.

A source told the Sun the industry was seeing shortages of 10 to 20 per cent and called on the government to change the rules on overseas workers to help.

Lynx Purchasing – which workers with 60 suppliers – said the issue would soon spread from eateries to boozers.

Boss Rachel Dobson said: ‘A fast food brand dependent on a specific product such as chicken sees the impact more quickly — but most pubs and restaurants have chicken dishes on the menu.’

Meanwhile consumers are being warned there could be empty shelves in convenience stores after a union said HGV drivers would go on strike over a pay row.

Up to 1,500 small shops across London and the south east could face delivery shortages after Tesco handed some lorry drivers a £5 pay rise, but not others.

Unite the Union said yesterday bosses from the supermarket’s wholesale division Booker were ‘missing in action’ after failing to engage in talks.

As many as 1,500 convenience stores across London and the south east could face delivery shortages over pay disparities caused by HGV bonuses handed out by Tesco (file photo)


Consumers have already faced barren supermarket shelves while shopping in major UK retailers, but could see more in London and the South east if the industrial action goes ahead

Drivers will now be balloted on whether to take strike action unless bosses match bonuses paid to drivers in other parts of the country.

Tesco implemented a £5-an-hour pay rise for drivers at its Booker Wholesale depot in Hemel Hempstead but refused to pay a similar increase to HGV drivers at its Thamesmead site, Unite said.

Booker drivers deliver products under the Budgens and Londis brands, with a fallout expected to hit those 1,500 convenience stores in the south east region hardest.

Unite accused the company of ‘burying its head in the sand’ as the HGV driver shortage across the country escalates due to an ageing workforce who are retiring.

The so-called ‘pingdemic’, a backlog of HGV driving tests and driver shortages as EU drivers returned home are all impacting the delivery sector.

The Road Haulage Association warned in July there was a shortage of 100,000 lorry drivers in the UK, which has been hampering deliveries from warehouses to shops.

Thousands of prospective drivers are waiting for their HGV tests due to a backlog caused by lockdown, while many existing ones have left the UK after Brexit.

Booker drivers deliver products under the Budgens and Londis brands, with any fallout expected to hit those 1,500 convenience stores in the south east region hardest 

The problem has been exacerbated by Covid, with drivers having to go into self-isolation amid the so-called ‘pingdemic’. 

That led to major supermarket retailers including Tesco, M&S and Aldi to all offer pay rises or bonuses to drivers in the hope of filling gaps in supply and on shelves.

Unite regional officer Paul Travers said: ‘Despite the company indicating that it wanted to get pay talks started early to address the issue, the top managers have gone ”missing in action”.

‘We understand the general manager is on holiday and another senior manager has just disappeared from the scene.

‘At a time when country faces the worst HGV driver shortage in modern times with an estimated 100,000 vacancies in the industry, it is the height of irresponsibility that there is no executive for Unite to negotiate with, it is worthy of a Fawlty Towers episode.

‘Our Thamesmead members are outraged at the disrespect the management and the company as a whole have shown them, they are very angry as they ballot for industrial action.

‘We are gaining new members from other employees disgusted at the company’s contemptuous attitude.’

It comes after the Road Haulage Association warned in late July that there was a shortage of 100,000 lorry drivers in the UK, which has been hampering deliveries of food from warehouses to supermarkets (file photo)

Food supply chains have been placed under intense stress because of a shortage of around 100,000 HGV drivers. 

Consumers have already been warned to expect to see empty shelves in supermarket aisles, and supply chain issues have already crippled fast food outlets KFC and Nando’s.

According to their website, almost 75 Nando’s venues were forced to close this week as a result of the supply chain issues.

The firm told customers online its shortages were caused by staff ‘isolation periods’ and suppliers ‘struggling to keep up with demand’.

It was just days after KFC bosses issued a nationwide supply warning after blaming ‘disruption’ for causing a lack of availability for some of its menu items.

Other retailers also warned they are facing ‘increased pressure’ to keep shelves fully stocked during a national shortage of approximately 100,000 HGV drivers.

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