Where’s my chicken?

In case you haven’t been paying attention to the news, there is a chicken shortage that is disrupting many restaurants across the UK. The popular chain, Nando’s, was forced to close 50 stores this week and KFC is warning the public to prepare for a ‘limited’ menu as a result of the shortage. Industry insiders are warning that the food crisis will most likely see more local restaurants close in the coming weeks.

Whilst Covid may play a role, hospitality sector chiefs blame Brexit as the main culprit. The key supply issue appears to be a labour shortage with production workers and lorry drivers.

UK poultry producers have expressed concern about their inability to recruit and fill vacancies since the UK workforce has been severely depleted as a result of Brexit. The result has forced producers to reduce chicken production up to 10 percent and the British Poultry Council believes this problem will continue into Christmas.

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) also blames Brexit along with all the driving tests that were cancelled during the pandemic. Around 15,000 drivers from the EU returned home following Brexit, according to the RHA.

But the food shortage goes beyond poultry. Large vegetable producers are dumping food due to the lack of hauliers. With delivery delays of several days, fresh food goes out of date and producers have no choice but to throw food away.

The Food and Drink Federation (FDA) warned that Brexit could cause more supply problems in October when new border controls will be introduced for Great Britain that will apply to imports from the EU.

Our purchasing experts believe the food crisis will continue for the rest of this year, or at least until the labour shortage eases and the ‘pingdemic’ subsides. The problem our sector will face is that if, and when, suppliers are at full staffing levels, they will more than likely have had to increase hourly rates to hire and retain staff. This increase will undoubtedly be passed on to retailers and consumers.

It is very possible that prices will not return to pre-pandemic / pre-Brexit levels – at least for the foreseeable future.

Please know that our team is here to assist your business and help source all of your food and non-food categories. We have in-depth market knowledge and relationships with both local and national suppliers that enable us to secure the best quality and pricing for our clients. We’ll even help you adjust menus based on what’s available and offer alternative products that will reduce costs, increase profits and satisfy your customers.