Haribo hit by lorry driver shortfall: ‘It could mean a return to the rationing of staple foods’

Shoppers are being warned to expect empty shelves after sweet maker Haribo became the latest household name to reveal it is struggling to get its stock to shops because of a shortage of lorry drivers[1].

A perfect storm of Covid-19 and Brexit has resulted in tens of thousands of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) driver jobs remaining unfilled. The Road Haulage Association (RHA) believes there is a shortfall of about 60,000 drivers.

About 30,000 HGV driving tests were cancelled last year because of the pandemic. Brexit is also part of the problem, according to the RHA, with many drivers unsure of their working rights in the UK.

The German-owned confectionery firm Haribo, whose brands also include Starmix and Tangfastics, said: “As is the case with many manufacturers and retailers throughout the country, we are experiencing challenges with regards to the nationwide driver shortage. We are working with partners across the food and drink industry to address and respond to this problem.”

Retailers have been complaining for months over delivery issues[2], including Tesco and Currys PC World.

David Jinks, the head of consumer research at the delivery company Parcel Hero, said: “We could soon be facing shortages as bad as those at the start of the first lockdown, which could mean a return to the rationing of staple foods.

“The reason is all too obvious. Our analysis of government figures shows thousands of EU drivers and warehouse operatives fleeing the UK to avoid Brexit regulations. This mass exodus was exacerbated by Covid-19, which brought the training of new lorry drivers to a standstill.”

In a usual year, 72,000 people train to become HGV drivers, with 40,000 passing the test. However, only 15,000 were able to complete their training last year, the RHA said.

The boss of the Federation of Wholesale Distributors added that the situation had become so bad that it wanted the Government to have Army trucks on standby to tackle the problem.

Additional reporting by PA