Europe in crisis – Beer shortages in Britain but Brexit NOT to blame
Ann Widdecombe says Brexit can’t be blamed for food shortages
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Brexit is one of the most divisive issues in British history. Even though the deal is done, many remainers have been quick to criticise recent supply chain shortages from businesses including McDonald’s and Nando’s. Now one of Britain’s favourite products has been affected: beer. But with widespread European lorry driver shortages being reported across the continent – claims Brexit is to blame are being fiercely disputed and criticised.
The pub chain Wetherspoons reported shortages of some of its beers on Wednesday amid a Brexit and Covid-induced shortage of delivery drivers.
The beer brands affected by the supply chain issues included Carling, Coors and Heineken.
Parent company JD Wetherspoon, which is led by vocal Brexit-supporter Tim Martin, confirmed on Wednesday that some of its pubs did not have the beers in stock, after customers flagged the issue on social media.
A Coca-Cola bottling giant also said Diet Coke was unavailable in supermarkets owing to a lack of drivers.
These supply issues have also hit other retailers and outlets in recent days.
Last month, fast-food chains including Nando’s and McDonald’s reported issues – with the former running short of chicken and the latter forced to stop serving milkshakes.
Molson Coors Beverage Company, which owns the Carling and Coors brands, confirmed that driver shortages had led to difficulties in supplying Wetherspoons.
The company said: “Like many in our great British brewing and pub sector we have been hit by the HGV driver shortage.
“While overall our availability is good, there are intermittent pockets of pressure in our supply network that are unfortunately affecting a number of Wetherspoons pubs.
“We’re working around the clock with our customers and third-party logistics partners to ensure we minimise any impact to our customers.”
Wetherspoons spokesman Eddi Gershod said: “We are experiencing some supply problems with both Carling and Coors, which means that some pubs do not have the products available.
“We apologise to our customers for any inconvenience caused. We know that the brewers are trying to resolve the issue.”
Wetherspoons added it had initially run out of Heineken which led to increased demand for other brands – which then ran out in some pubs.
Mr Gershod added: “As a result of a shortage of deliveries of Heineken, some other products ran out in some locations – for example Carling and Coors lagers.
“We understand that the industrial action we refer to has now been called off, which, we hope, means that the supply issues will be resolved in early course.
“As of today, the majority of pubs, we believe, are now fully stocked, but some pubs may be short of a few brands, pending deliveries in the next few days.”
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But many Brexiteers have been keen to stress Brexit is not to blame for these issues – proven by the fact lorry drivers shortages have hit several parts of Europe.
Mainland Europe is experiencing an estimated 400,000 lorry driver shortage.
Britain is facing a shortfall of around 100,000 lorry drivers by comparison – suggesting there is a wider issue at play given demand across other European nations.
Mainland Europe is attributing its beer shortages to a lack of lorry drivers, as well as port closures across China and the Far East amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Research by logistics analyst Transport Intelligence found that Germany was missing between 45,000 and 60,000 HGV drivers last year.
The International Road Transport Union warned there would be a 185,000 shortfall in Germany by 2027.
France has also admitted to lorry driver shortages of around 43,000 since 2019.
Italy by comparison had a shortage of around 15,000 drivers, according to Transport Intelligence.
Jose Gomez-Urquiza, the chief executive officer of Visa Solutions, an immigration agency with a focus on the transportation industry, said: “We’re living through the worst driver shortage that we’ve seen in recent history, by far.”
In a 2018 report from European Road Freight Transport, Tim Philips, director of Duma Consulting and former chief executive of Freightex, wrote simply bringing in drivers from East Europe has, in turn, created a similar gap in the markets they left.
He wrote: “This is currently being partially filled by drivers from further afield, such as Ukraine.
“However this is not an inexhaustible supply and there are trucks parked up with no drivers.”
Former cabinet minister John Redwood said HGV driver shortages has been an issue for years in the making.
He told GB News: “This isn’t a Brexit issue, there’s difficulties recruiting in Poland, Germany and the US.”
Across social media many were also quick to poke holes in those who claimed Brexit was the sole cause of supply chain issues in Britain.
Scottish politician Murdo Fraser tweeted: “Presumably the HGV driver shortage in Germany, Poland, and across Europe, hasn’t been caused by Brexit? Or does that spoil the narrative?”
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