Energy crisis, labor shortage and supply chain issues in the UK – here’s what we are missing and industries at risk | UK News


From “canceled” Christmas dinners to the collapse of many energy suppliers and missing items on supermarket shelves, many industry experts say Britain is in crisis.

The UK economy has been disrupted by several factors, including labor shortages, new immigration rules and the lingering effects of the pandemic.

It is estimated that around 100,000 truck drivers are missing, and soaring energy costs have also increased the cost of food production and logistics.

• What is Britain lacking?


The use of CO2 is essential in the food supply chain, especially when it comes to packaging and meat production. It is also used to stun animals before slaughter.

The closure of the fertilizer factories therefore has a ripple effect on the food industry.

Ranjit Singh Boparan, owner of Bernard Matthews and 2 Sisters Food Group, said the supply issues, as well as the shortage of workers, will affect the supply of turkeys for Christmas.

CO2 is also injected into the packaging of some perishable foods, including meat and salads, to prevent the growth of bacteria – and can extend the shelf life of products like beef for about five days.

Ian Wright, chief executive of the Food and Drink Federation, said consumers might start to notice shortages of poultry, pork and baked goods in the coming days.

Food grade CO2 is used for hundreds of products – so Britain faces shortages of:

  • Packaged meats, including poultry and pork
  • Packaged fresh food and bakery products
  • Packaged baby food
  • Chips
  • Pet food
  • Beer and wine
  • Sparkling water and soft drinks

Christmas trees

Retailers warn of a potential shortage of Christmas trees and higher prices this year amid labor and supply chain difficulties as around a tenth of real Christmas trees sold in the UK are imported.

Post-Brexit regulations and a tight labor market could lead to shortages and increased demand for locally grown trees.

Mark Rofe, owner of, said: “We have spoken to our UK growers and they all face the same challenges.

“They see an increase in demand for their product, especially from customers who typically import their trees from Europe, but want to avoid any bureaucracy that could increase costs or cause delays for what is of course a period. very seasonal and temporal. sensitive business. “

Truck drivers

The UK has been hit by a shortage of truck drivers this summer, a crisis that affected supermarkets, restaurants and other retailers.

The shortfall was triggered by an exodus of foreign nationals, post-Brexit immigration rules and self-isolation requirements.

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Why are there supply shortages in the UK?

McDonald’s, KFC, Greggs, Subway and Nando’s are among the grocery retailers affected by the truck driver shortage.

In August, McDonald’s was forced to withdraw milkshakes and bottled drinks of his menu due to supply chain issues, while Greggs said that some products containing chicken were missing from its shelves.

The UK’s largest dairy supplier Arla has said up to a quarter of supermarket milk deliveries have failed due to a shortage of truck drivers.

And the UK’s biggest supermarket chains including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Co-op and Iceland Foods have all been hit by supply chain shortages due to disruption in deliveries – Tesco urging people not to panic to buy.

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The energy “worst case scenario” is predicted by the government

Pet food

Such difficulties are spreading to other sectors, including the pet food industry.

Major supermarkets, including Sainsbury’s and Tesco, reported widespread pet food shortages in March due to unanticipated high demand – with supply issues affecting sachets of wet dog and cat food the most.

There are now fears that UK pet food shortages will worsen in winter as empty supermarket shelves become more visible.


Halfords, the UK’s largest bicycle retailer, said bicycle sales fell nearly 23% in the 20 weeks to August 20 compared to the same period last year.

He blamed the supply chain disruption from imports on the shortage of truck drivers, and UK bicycle shops are still struggling to keep up with demand.

Production was also disrupted as factories in Asia temporarily closed due to COVID-19, which affected distribution, leading to reduced supply and increased demand.


Empty shelves
Supermarkets urged people not to panic to buy

Wetherspoons said on September 1 that it had problems with the supply of Carling and Coors beers and that this was the ripple effect of protest action by drivers acting on behalf of another brewer . Molson Coors, who makes the brands, also spoke about the shortage of truck drivers.

Ivan Menezes, chief executive of beverage giant Johnnie Walker-to-Guinness, told Sky News that supply chains have become “more difficult … to be able to meet global demand.


In headache for automakers, widespread shutdowns of magnesium smelters in China’s top producer are due to a crackdown on emissions and energy shortages, pushing metal prices to their highest level since 2008.

Magnesium, which is also widely used in the aerospace industry, is needed to make aluminum alloys for the automotive industry, which already suffers from a shortage of chips.

The White House is set to discuss ways to overcome a semiconductor chip supply crisis that is slashing automotive production around the world in a new round of meetings with major companies.

Automakers have felt the impact of supply chain shortages


Manufacturers of electronics have also fallen victim to supply chain disruptions and component shortages.

Many components come from supply chains in Asia, and due to closures in China during the COVID-19 pandemic, shortages have continued to impact manufacturers around the world.

The decrease in supply has led to a surge in prices as the demand for electronic components increases.

Construction materials

The shortage of truck drivers and the high number of construction vacancies continue to impact the supply of building materials – which has left the construction industry to its knees.

A shortage of key building materials such as tiles, cement and lumber impacted the industry for months, with prices rising for several materials.

Amid the dwindling supplies, prices could rise in the near term, with data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showing the cost of materials increased by 20% between July 2020 and July 2021.

construction warehouse with bags of cement for industrial use
Construction sector suffers from shortage of key materials

• What caused the crisis?

In addition to labor shortages, new immigration rules and the lingering effects of the pandemic, soaring European natural gas wholesale prices have also sent shockwaves through producers of energy, commodities. chemicals and steel, and strained supply chains that were already crumbling due to a labor shortage and the Brexit uproar.

Wholesale gas prices have increased 250% since the start of the year and 70% since August.

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The shortage of truck drivers “a cocktail of chaos”

After gas prices triggered a carbon dioxide shortage, the government extended state emergency aid to avert a shortage of poultry and meat.

Rising gas prices caused six companies to fall this month: PfP Energy, MoneyPlus Energy, Utility Point, People’s Energy, Green, Avro Energy.

There are fears others could follow, with Bulb and Igloo reportedly on the verge of collapse. There are now around 40 suppliers in the UK market, down sharply from the peak of 70 in 2018.

• Why are there shortages?

Rising gas prices threatened to wreak havoc on the food supply chain – leading to warnings that store shelves could be left bare in the weeks to come.

Some factories have been forced to close, halting the production of carbon dioxide – which has critical uses in the meat production industry and in food packaging.

The government said it has now reached a deal to avoid CO2 shortages.

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