Brits face Christmas booze shortage due to 'delivery chaos', drink firms warn

25 November 2021, 07:31

The supply chain crisis could hit the booze industry hard at Christmas.
The supply chain crisis could hit the booze industry hard at Christmas. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

The UK could face a booze shortage this Christmas due to "delivery chaos", drink firms have warned.

It comes as the HGV driver crisis continues to take its toll on the supply chain, already causing major delays on wine and spirit delivery times.

The Wine and Spirits Trade Association (WSTA) wrote to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to express its concerns over the issue, urging ministers to "ease the burden".

In the letter, signed by major brands including Moet Hennessy, Pernod Ricard and Campari, they wrote: "Businesses are still struggling, and further action is needed, particularly now in the run up to Christmas - a critical trading period for our sector."

It added: "This is an urgent issue for our businesses, and it is imperative that Government takes immediate steps to help mitigate the impact of the driver shortages crisis before the Christmas period."

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The WSTA is calling on the Government to urgently extend the temporary visa scheme for HGV drivers beyond the end of February 2022 for a minimum one-year period to "ease the burden on industry and allow for a sufficient increase in domestic drivers".

It also demanded the Government facilitate better routing of freight from ports and provide regular updates on the DVLA processing HGV driving tests and licences.

Miles Beale, Chief Executive of the WSTA, said: "There is mounting concern amongst our membership that unless urgent action is taken, we will fall deeper into delivery chaos.  

"48 member companies have put their name to our letter calling on the Transport Secretary to extend the temporary visa scheme and improve transport routes.

"We are already seeing major delays on wine and spirit delivery times which is pushing up costs and limiting the range of products available to UK consumers.

"Government needs to be doing all it can to ensure British business is not operating with one hand tied behind its back over the festive season and beyond."

The drinks industry is not alone in its struggle as the Christmas period rapidly approaches, with the meat industry also said to be facing turkey shortages.

However, the Road Haulage Association told MPs last month that the crisis is "not visibly getting better".