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Tesco issues panic buying warning

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

The supermarket has warned the government that pre-Christmas panic buying could be worse than that experienced during the first lockdown last year.

Tesco executives made the comments at a meeting of the government’s new food and drink taskforce, according to trade magazine The Grocer.

Tesco has blamed empty shelves in supermarkets on the HGV driver shortage. The supermarket is suffering a shortfall of about 800 drivers, despite offering new recruits a £1,000 bonus since July.

Tesco warned ministers that despite paying inflated wages it was unable to fill the quantity of vacancies and was currently operating with a substantial shortfall. Tesco’s logistics partner Eddie Stobart is also seeking a similar number of drivers.

Andrew Woolfenden, Tesco’s distribution and fulfilment director, compared companies desperately trying to recruit expert drivers from a limited pool to ‘moving deckchairs around’, according to ITV News.

One Tesco executive told the government that “the pictures of empty shelves will get 10 times worse by Christmas and then we’ll get panic-buying“.

Tesco is calling for a temporary easing of rules to make it easier to bring in workers from abroad to solve the problem.

Iceland boss Richard Walker has also warned that the fresh food sector was likely to face delivery disruption and empty shelves as a result of the lorry driver shortage hitting the economy. But he said there was no need for customers to panic buy in the run up to the festive season.

The past few months have seen supply chain issues hit restaurants such as McDonalds, KFC, Greggs and Nando’s. Meanwhile lorry drivers have been threatening strike action in rows over pay.

More recently, a shortage of carbon dioxide, a side effect of the energy crisis, has added to supply chain problems because of CO2’s crucial role in food and drink production.