Tesco suppliers are being forced to bin nearly 50 tonnes of fresh food every week because there are too few lorry drivers to transport produce to stores.
Around 48 tonnes of food – enough to fill two trucks – destined for Tesco is being thrown away every week as a result of a severe shortage of heavy goods vehicle drivers in the UK.
The admission, first reported by industry publication The Grocer, was made during an industry-wide round-table organised by the Department for Transport and marks the first time a supermarket chain has broken cover to lay out to Government the extent to which the lack of drivers is affecting the food and drink sector.
It comes after i revealed that some products have begun disappearing from shelves and prices are likely to increase because of the of the severe driver shortage.
Suppliers are being forced to delay or cancel thousands delivery loads every week to supermarkets and restaurants because haulage firms cannot find enough drivers to transport the produce.
The shelf-life of fresh produce is reduced and can spoil before it even leaves the wholesalers while Supermarkets often deem short-dated goods delivered late to distribution centres and stores unsellable.
The crisis is so severe one leading industry figure has called for the Government to put the Army on standby to transport food if the situation worsens.
“The situation has reached crisis point and it is likely to get worse as more hospitality venues open and demand increases,” said James Bielby, chief executive officer of the Federation of Wholesale Distributors.
“We are concerned enough to suggest that the Government considers having Army trucks on standby to ensure there are enough vehicles and drivers to distribute food.”
The shortage has been attributed to a combination of factors including Brexit, which led to an exodus of EU-based drivers, tax changes, which have driven up hauliers costs and a lack of driver training and tests during the pandemic preventing newcomers from joining the workforce.