The UK could face a Christmas alcohol shortage if the government doesn’t do more to address current supply chain issues, industry leaders have warned.
A group of 48 wine and spirits companies – including Moët Hennessy and the Wine Society – have urged the transport secretary to do more to address the lack of HGV drivers, or risk supermarkets running dry of booze.
In a letter to Grant Shapps, members of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) said supply chain chaos and rising costs have been holding up the deliveries of wine and spirits.
They reported that it is taking up to five times longer to import products than last year, claiming that two-day orders take more than two weeks to process.
“Businesses who had previously been able to fulfil orders in two to three days are now experiencing shipments taking 15 days to process,” a group of 48 companies represented by the WSTA said in the letter to Shapps.
“Costs have increased around 7 per cent (and often more) by freight forwarders to account for driver retention.”
The drinks companies are calling on Shapps to extend a temporary visa scheme for HGV drivers, which expires in February, to a year.
They are also asking the government to provide regular updates on how many HGV driver licences are being processed by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), and to help smooth out congested freight routes.
Miles Beale, the WSTA chief executive, said: “There is mounting concern amongst our membership that unless urgent action is taken, we will fall deeper into delivery chaos.
“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.”
[Image by Trong Nguyen via Shutterstock]