Haribo struggles to deliver to UK shops due to lorry driver shortage

Food & drink industry

Haribo struggles to deliver to UK shops due to lorry driver shortage

German sweet maker has reportedly cancelled promotions on share bags as it tries to maintain availability

and Thu 1 Jul 2021 19.08 BST

Last modified on Fri 2 Jul 2021 05.29 BST

The lorry driver shortage could become tangfastically real for British children and their parents after the confectionery manufacturer Haribo told shopkeepers it was struggling to deliver enough bags of sweets.

Jelly babies, gummy bears and mini-fried eggs could all be affected as the German firm said it was having trouble getting its products to customers in the UK.

In news that will concern millions of small children and the carers who bribe them, Haribo has reportedly cancelled planned promotions on its share bags as it tries to maintain availability.

"As is the case with many manufacturers and retailers throughout the country, we are experiencing challenges with regards to the nationwide driver shortage," a spokesperson said. "We are working with partners across the food and drink industry to address and respond to this problem."

According to trade paper the Grocer, Haribo told wholesale and retail customers it had a number of problems in the supply chain and was "working flat out to manage the situation".

It also reported that other suppliers including Hain Daniels - purveyor of soup, jam and veggie sausage brands - had asked their business customers for assistance in easing deliveries.

The sweets bottleneck follows warnings from the logistics industry that there could be summer gaps on shelves, particularly of chilled food, including some fruit and vegetables, because of a lack of drivers.

Government officials have held emergency talks with retailers, wholesalers and logistics groups to address the shortage. The haulage industry says tens of thousands of HGV driver jobs remain unfilled because of a combination of Brexit and Covid-19.

Food wholesalers have also talked of a "perfect storm" caused by the shortage in HGV drivers leading to gaps on retailers' shelves or in hospitality business's offerings.

James Bielby, the chief executive of the Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD), said: "It is really critical. There are late deliveries or short deliveries, or product not available, or they are missing the delivery slot and having to collect.

So there is a shortage of product coming in, which has a knock-on effect.

"The number of items that are available to customers is reduced, and also the number of drivers which the wholesalers use is reduced."

The FWD, which has 660 members ranging from large food businesses including Brakes and Booker to smaller regional wholesalers, said the situation had been getting worse since the reopening of indoor hospitality in England on 17 May.

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The squeeze on deliveries of food and drink products is expected to continue to get worse, especially from September, when pupils go back to school after the summer holidays and workers return to offices, leading to the reopening of canteens.

"There will be a series of pressure points unless some action is taken," Bielby said. "It's a perfect storm.

Demand is not being met by supply".

The industry said flexibility on drivers' hours could help ease the situation, combined with an effort to clear the backlog of drivers waiting to take tests to gain or maintain their HGV licence.

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