Lorry truck delivery

The Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD) is calling on the government to use the extra month of restrictions to prevent a distribution disaster of a “big bang” re-opening on July 19, the height of the holiday season.

FWD has said a national shortage of delivery drivers would have led to thousands of pubs and restaurants being unable to open fully if the government roadmap had gone ahead as originally planned.

Food wholesalers, producers and operators have been struggling to find HGV-qualified drivers to keep the food and drink supply chain running, even with the hospitality industry operating at well below full capacity.

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Many distributors have had to reduce the number of deliveries they make to shops and restaurants, or reduce the volume of stock available for customers to order, resulting in availability challenges in stores and kitchens.

FWD chief executive James Bielby said: “The driver shortage in the food supply chain is at crisis point, leading to massive waste and empty shelves.”

“We met Department of Transport ministers and told them they need to operate on a crisis footing. They are not, and we’re sleepwalking towards disaster.”

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