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Lack of Heavy Goods Vehicle Drivers to lead to Empty Shelves and Food Shortages Nationwide

Byline TV spoke to Operation Managers, HGV drivers and representatives of food supply chains to gage their worries about the impending shortages and the lack of drivers caused by Brexit and the pandemic. 

“It’s been a nightmare to get drivers,” says Laura Salt, an operations manager of a freight transporter in Derbyshire, who stresses the importance of drivers and offers concern for the current shortages being faced, particularly due to Brexit and the end of the free movement of people from Europe. “We’ve had a lot of European drivers go back due to paperwork, it’s just a lot easier to go back. It’s causing chaos.” 

Steve Burgess, a truck driver from Kent, spoke about the ease of customs pre-Brexit compared to the logistical headache that now exists. “Before Brexit, when a trailer came off the ferry we could pick it up and go straight away. Now, it has to come off the ferry and then await customs clearance. I’ve been sat here for three hours waiting, some of my colleagues have lost a whole day” says Steve, a father of a 22 year old son who he is discouraging from joining the industry. 

Shane Brennan, CEO of The Cold Chain Federation in Reading leads the representative membership organisation for companies that store temperature controlled food and other goods in the United Kingdom. He spends most of his time dealing with immediate crises, particularly around Brexit. 

“The number of people that are non-UK nationals that we relied upon in our food supply chain and have left the UK, we don’t know if they’re coming back. The reality of Brexit is that it’s going to be much more difficult to come back than it was when we were in the EU.” says Shane, who talks about the intermittent shortages of food goods.

“I think businesses across the supply chain are frustrated that the evidence is that there hasn’t been a clear plan for how to maintain supplies through what has been a chaotic exit of the EU.” says Shane who details how people did not expect the food chain to be under the strain it is experiencing due to Brexit. 

“There’s been a lot of issues since Brexit, but of course what people didn’t realise is that the deal came with an extensive amount of paperwork.” said Graham Pask, the South East Manager for the Road Haulage Association. “A lot of issues, particularly with foodstuffs, nobody – not even the government, fully understood the costs involved with exporting and importing from Europe.” says Graham, who stresses that delays and added costs in all sectors of British industry will be affected and that there’s no fix for the near future. 

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