Food products that could be affected by shortages
Industry insiders warned that there are several products that are at greatest risk of shortages.
This is because these products are usually imported from the continent at this time of year.
- Lettuce leaves, including lettuce
- Citrus fruit
- Fresh berry fruits like strawberries and raspberries
Shellfish suppliers also warned their products could run short.
They said the perishable products were stranded when the French border closed.
Freight forwarders must be allowed to enter France from the port of Dover today as supermarket shelves will run short in the UK if the situation is not resolved, experts have warned.
"Timing is of the essence" with the backlog of trucks in Dover, industry insiders say as panicked shoppers queued outside supermarkets at 5:30 this morning.
The warnings come from the British Retail Consortium, the trade association for British retailers, which has reassured the UK public that enough groceries are available for Christmas.
All the ingredients and products that are needed for a traditional Christmas dinner are already in the country and are available to consumers.
However, if empty trucks to France are not allowed to fill up, there will be a shortage of fresh produce, with the supply of lettuce, vegetables and fresh fruits like strawberries and raspberries being most at risk, as they are usually imported from the continent at this time of year.
Andrew Opie, BRC's director of food and sustainability, told BBC Radio 4's Today program: “To be very clear, there is certainly no problem for Christmas.
“Right now there is plenty of food in the supply chain and in stores so nobody has to worry about food for Christmas dinner. There is enough food for everyone and we can all shop normally.
“But there may be a problem right after Christmas and that is really fresh produce. So we're talking about things like lettuce, vegetables and fresh fruit here, the vast majority of which are from Europe at this point.
& # 39; Timing is absolutely crucial. This needs to be resolved. The borders really have to be pretty free from tomorrow to assure us that there will be no disruptions.
“To give just one example: 90 percent of our salads and around 70 percent of our berries arrive via these canal ports at this time of year.
“These ports operate several crossings every day. These are perishable products. You can't put them in a container and take them to another port. You have to be brought up from Spain.
Shoppers in a Sainsbury & # 39; s store in London were seen filling their trollies with Christmas groceries on Tuesday morning
At that shop in Balham, south London, several people queued outside this morning as shoppers queued for groceries across the UK
Supermarket queues grew at this Waitrose store in London on Tuesday morning for fear of shortages on the sidewalk
Long lines of shoppers formed in front of this M&S Foodhall in North Tyneside this morning before sunrise
"They have a very short shelf life, there is no alternative to Dover or Folkestone, and so we need these ports and across the canal to work freely."
Number 10 yesterday called for silence as panic buyers formed long lines in front of supermarkets. Instead, people were urged to “shop normally” for all of their festive staples after the French government pledged to resume the movement as soon as possible after a coronavirus travel ban threw the country into chaos.
The Port of Dover confirmed incoming trucks to the UK yesterday, but the queues of trucks waiting to enter France from the UK's main port spanned more than 20 miles after the French issued a temporary 48 hour Had announced a travel ban.
France closed its borders to British travelers from 11 p.m. on Sunday evening as large parts of the country went into Tier 4 lockdown after the mutant strain of Covid spread to parts of London and the south-east.
A long line stretches around Silverlink Retail Park in North Tyneside today as Christmas shoppers wait in line for the M&S Food Hall
The supermarket queues started this morning for a second day in a row after people started waiting at 5:50 a.m. yesterday morning. Right picture: Waitrose in Cambridge
The shelves were replenished Tuesday morning at this Aldi store in Balham, south London, in preparation for the many shoppers expected today
The line at Silverlink Retail Park in North Tyneside started in the dark this morning as Christmas shoppers waited in line for the M&S grocery hall to open at 7am
The early morning queues resembled scenes from yesterday with shoppers queuing outside a supermarket from 5:50 a.m.
The shelves were emptied of fresh produce earlier this morning at the Tesco Local Store in Wandsworth, London
Countries like France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, Austria, Denmark, Ireland and Bulgaria also announced restrictions on travel to the UK following the outbreak of the new strain in southeast England.
Countries reacted after Mr Johnson announced on Saturday that the new variant was up to 70 percent more transmissible than the original strain as he put London and parts of the south-east and east of England on a two-week Christmas lockdown with nearly 18 million people in a new one Tier 4.
The travel ban is due to be lifted this evening at 11 p.m. but could be lifted earlier if negotiations between France and England come to a conclusion.
The crisis talks continue after France announced that it would only accept freight forwarders into the country if they had a negative Covid test. But a dispute arose over where tests would be held.
Industry leaders initially warned France's coronavirus ban on UK trucks could prevent hauliers from bringing in vital festive food supplies, causing shoppers to empty supermarket shelves yesterday Panic buyers queues from 5:50 a.m.
Men and women stood in line for the Waitrose supermarket in Balham on Tuesday morning, only a few days until Christmas
This Waitrose store in London also had long lines on Tuesday morning when people tried to buy their groceries before Christmas
Shoppers got up early this morning and long lines formed before 7 a.m. while people waited for stores to open
Many shoppers wore masks as they waited in line for the M&S Foodhall in North Tyneside on Tuesday morning
Experts fear a shortage of fresh produce after Christmas Day if the situation in Dover is not resolved today. Pictured: M&S store in North Tyneside
Industry experts urged people not to panic, saying there were enough products in the country for people's Christmas dinner
The registers at this store in London Sainsbury were full on Tuesday morning as people waited to pay for their purchases
Customers who queued for a supermarket in Balham, London, as well as other stores that were closed under Tier 4 measures, are considered "not material".
Lines formed outside the Costco wholesale store in Birmingham as shoppers waited to receive their goods before Christmas Day on Friday
News that freight forwarders carrying essential goods were still allowed to travel from France to the UK took a long time to reach people at the checkouts, with panic buyers stopping much of the time yesterday.
This morning there were again long queues with lines that formed from 5:30 a.m. At the Marks & Spencer Food Hall near Newcastle in the Silverlink Retail Park in North Tyneside, queues wound around the parking lot.
A line snaked in the Silverlink retail park at the front of the store and beyond three days before Christmas from 7 a.m.
It is believed that festive staples such as parsnips and home-grown sprouts will not run out, but there are fears that imported goods could move across France after the ban on shipping cargo across the Canal.
Newcastle is currently in Tier 3, which means non-essential stores are open in the city.
Mr. Opie explained the current situation in Dover and said: “T.The problem is actually empty trucks. The empty trucks now stuck in Kent have to return to places like Spain to pick up the next shipment of raspberries and strawberries and they have to return the next day or so or we will see disruption.
& # 39; Our view is, as long as it can be clarified today, there will be minimal impact on consumers. Keep in mind that shops are closed on Christmas Day which takes a day of purchase out of the equation, but the trucks stuck in Kent must be back within the next day.
"The other thing to mention is whatever has been agreed. We have to be careful not to overload the supply chain, which in itself creates disruption by delaying drivers during the test."
He added: & # 39;We always thought there would be queues. You need to remember that these are the busiest days to shop, at least the next few days before Christmas.
“And remember, all stores are still running all Covid logs, which means you can't get as many people into a supermarket as you normally would.
“I'm afraid we always saw that queues were inevitable. We're not seeing the kind of over-buying in any amount that we saw during this time in mid-March so people should remember that stores are open longer to try to reach everyone but Covid logs mean that we can, "There aren't that many people in the supermarkets so I'm afraid there might be a small amount of queues."
A shopper in Ashford, Kent, is seen with a very full cart a few days before Christmas as people rush into stores to buy festive supplies
Chaotic scenes in Asda in Wandsworth, South West London, when large numbers of shoppers came into the store, creating long queues in the aisles. A man at the head of the line seemed to rest his eyes after waiting so long
Shoppers look at empty shelves in the fruit and vegetable aisles of Asda in London this afternoon. Industry insiders warned that there are several products that are at greatest risk of shortages
A final turkey can be seen on a shelf as people shop at a Sainsbury & # 39; s London store that is now on Tier 4
At a Tesco Extra store in south east London today, shoppers could be seen as people flocked to supermarkets days before Christmas
The shelves were full of fresh supplies when a large number of shoppers turned up in supermarkets this morning to report a French travel ban. The port of Dover has confirmed that trucks with essential items are now arriving from France
A spokesman for Number 10 said UK supply chains are "diverse and resilient" and urged people yesterday not to act unnecessarily by emptying supermarket shelves.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson's official spokesman said: "We have resilient supply chains and … it is the case that most of our food does not come in the short street.
"People should shop normally and continue to shop considerately."
Some of the items most at risk of shortages include lettuce leaves, citrus fruits, broccoli and cauliflower, which are typically imported from the continent at this time of year, industry experts say.
There were also concerns that perishable goods could rot in waiting trucks as the chaos at the border resulted in more truck queues.
This buyer began to line up in front of a supermarket where a number of people were already waiting at 5:50 a.m.
Long queues formed outside that Waitrose supermarket in Henleaze near Brisol this morning as people tried to stock up on festive supplies. This picture was posted on Twitter with the caption, "This is Christmas, Queuing for a Turkey".
Tesco and Sainsbury & # 39; s, the UK's two largest supermarket groups, warned Monday that if freight deliveries were not quickly restored, there would be gaps on shelves in a matter of days.
A Sainsbury & # 39; s spokesperson said: & # 39; All of the products for the Great British Christmas Lunch are already in the country and we have plenty of them.
& # 39; We also source everything we can from the UK and are looking for alternative means of transport for products from Europe.
“If nothing changes, we will see gaps in lettuce, some lettuce leaves, cauliflower, broccoli and citrus fruits in the coming days, all of which are imported from the continent at this time of year.
"We hope that the British and French governments can come to an amicable solution that prioritizes the immediate transfer of produce and other food in ports."
Mussel producers in Scotland also said they stranded tons of perishable products on roads when the French border closed. A disruption in the UK will also affect deliveries to Ireland.
Warnings of supermarket shortages There are also fears that a Brexit deal will not be reached before the end of the year, leading to the UK leaving the EU.
"I don't think anyone should worry – there is plenty of food in our stores," Interior Minister Priti Patel told LBC radio on Tuesday.
People brave the rain at the Waitrose store in Henleaze at 7:37 a.m. to stand in line and do their shopping earlier than usual before Christmas
Shoppers in Sainsbury's supermarket in north London buy festive groceries before 8 a.m. just four days before Christmas amid a French ban on UK freight forwarders
The shelves at this Sainsbury's store looked heavy yesterday morning as long lines of shoppers lined up in supermarkets across the UK for fear the French travel ban could restrict food supply chains
Yesterday morning shoppers were seen in north London waiting for their turn to shop as the queues grew as the hours went on
Aldi and Waitrose supermarkets also had queues of shoppers yesterday, and people posted pictures of the chaos on social media
That person in the southeast also saw long supermarket lines yesterday after Tier 4 Covid restrictions went into effect across much of the UK on Saturday night
Some supermarket shoppers report seeing queues and empty shelves, similar to what happened when the UK's first coronavirus lockdown began.
Ameera Patel stood in line in the rain for 40 minutes outside their local Waitrose in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, on Monday morning.
"It's something I haven't seen since March and April," the 40-year-old budding financial advisor told PA yesterday.
Ms. Patel said the shelves were generally well stocked with the exception of the toilet paper aisle where some were empty. "The atmosphere in the store was good, busy holidays … there didn't seem to be a feeling of concern," she added.
Dan Forshaw, 39, said there were queues and a row of empty meat and vegetable shelves at his local Waitrose in Cambridge.
"It was pretty shocking as it was only 10.30am … I've been shopping at this Waitrose for over six years and it's the first time I've seen it like this around Christmas," the musician told PA.
"It wasn't bad doing this in the spring, but now it's wet, cold and while the staff have been incredibly helpful, I'm worried that I won't have everything for our family this Christmas."
The French borders were closed yesterday morning after a 48-hour travel ban went into effect at 11 p.m. yesterday evening when a mutated strain of the Covid virus spread in south-east England
"Stay at home" signs were sent to drivers on the M27 motorway near Portsmouth, Hampshire, which was rated Tier 4 on Saturday night
Huge queues formed this morning at the Costco store in Trafford, Manchester, worried about the pre-Christmas food shortage
Der Asda-Laden an der Old Kent Road in London war heute ebenfalls voll, als sich die Käufer anstellten, um die Kassen für ihre Einkäufe zu bezahlen
Mehrere Supermärkte in Liverpool, Merseyside, sind heute beschäftigt. Die Käufer sind hier im Tesco-Geschäft der Stadt abgebildet
Im Morrisons-Geschäft in Liverpool werden auch die Lagerbestände durch die große Anzahl von Käufern reduziert, die durch ihre Türen kommen
Die Regale in einem isländischen Geschäft im Norden Londons waren heute Morgen schnell leer, als die Käufer eilten, um festliche Lebensmittel zu kaufen
Grundnahrungsmittel wie Brot waren heute Morgen in diesem isländischen Supermarkt im Norden Londons Mangelware
Vor 8 Uhr morgens gab es in diesem Sainsbury's-Laden im Norden Londons einen Ansturm von Käufern mit vollgepackten Trollies, die an den Kassen zu sehen waren
Der Tesco-Laden in Cirencester war heute Morgen beschäftigt, als die Leute lange Schlangen bildeten, um ihren Weihnachtslebensmittelladen zu erledigen
In diesem Asda-Geschäft in London an der Old Kent Road wurden Käufer gesehen, die Truthähne für ihr Weihnachtsessen abholten
In diesem Asda-Geschäft in der Old Kent Road im Süden Londons wurden die Regale von bestimmten Konserven geleert, nachdem die Hauptstadt in Tier 4 gestürzt war
Die Leute wurden in Masken gesehen, als sie heute Morgen vor dem Tesco-Laden in Cirencester in der Schlange warteten
Frische Produkte waren heute bei den Käufern sehr gefragt, da sich viele vor Weihnachten mit Lebensmitteln eindeckten
Die Menschen warteten heute geduldig in sozial distanzierten Warteschlangen in diesem Waitrose-Geschäft, aus Angst vor dem Mangel an einigen Produkten
"In the supermarket queue at 5:50 am to get my hands on Blockade / Brexit Moor Roll," a buyer posted on Twitter next to a picture of a number of people who were already in the queue.
Ein anderer veröffentlichte ein Bild aus einem Waitrose-Geschäft in Henleaze im Südwesten Englands, auf dem sich lange Schlangen von Menschen zeigten, die sich im Regen um den Parkplatz schlängelten. Sie beschrifteten es mit: "Und so ist Weihnachten, in der Warteschlange für einen Truthahn."
Andere sagten, die Warteschlangen in ihrem örtlichen Supermarkt seien die schlimmsten gewesen, die sie seit Monaten gesehen hätten.
Der Aldi-Supermarkt in Burpham, Guildford, hatte eine Stunde vor seiner Eröffnung lange Schlangen vor der Tür.
Die 27-jährige Käuferin Lucy Smith sagte: „Als sich die Türen öffneten, gab es eine lange Schlange. Die Leute waren so früh aufgestanden und hatten offensichtlich Angst, dass sie zu Weihnachten kein Essen bekommen könnten.
»Wir sind alle reingegangen und ich habe ein paar Leute gesehen, die Yorkshire-Pudding von Trollies anderer Leute geholt haben. »Ich habe es geschafft, eine Packung mit vier Yorkshire-Puddings zu bekommen. But as I made my way through the store, somebody just took them out of my trolley.
The chaotic scenes this morning included shoppers fighting over Yorkshire puddings at an Aldi store in Burpham, near Guildford, according to shopper Lucy Smith, 27
Stocks of loo roll were in short supply this morning, echoing scenes from earlier in the pandemic when panic buyers stripped the shelves of toilet tissue
Washing powers and products also appeared to be popular products with shoppers who flocked to the shops this morning
A staff member outside a Morrisons supermarket in Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear, dressed as Santa
People were seen stocking up on parsnips at Tesco Cash and Carry in Cambridge on Monday morning as the supermarkets told customers not to panic buy
Supermarkets warned that lettuce was among the products that would be at risk of shortage if the border with France remained closed, as lettuce and salad is typically imported from the Continent at this time of year
'People were actually arguing with each other over them. It's absolute madness. And I thought that things were bad enough without this nonsense.'
The UK retail consortium had previously urged buyers not to clear the shelves amid concerns about a no-deal Brexit.
Earlier this month, they said retailers are "increasing stocks of cans, toilet rolls, and other longer-lasting products to ensure adequate supplies of essential products."
They hope to avoid repeating scenes earlier in the pandemic when panic buying led to empty supermarket shelves and restrictions on key items. Until now, supermarkets have restricted sales of key items such as toilet paper and staple foods such as rice, flour, and pasta.
But a French travel ban will lead to shortages if 'nothing changes', the industry experts said.
The port of Dover was closed to all escorted traffic leaving the UK for the next 48 hours after France imposed an entry ban. Pictured: lorry queue on the M20 in Folkestone
One person on social media, who says they are a truck driver, warned of a 'humanitarian crisis' approaching as the travel ban left many hauliers queuing at ports and along motorways across the UK
Operation Stack was implemented on the M20 in Kent last night – when parts of the motorway were reserved for parking trucks queuing for canal ports
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) earlier warned the closure of France to UK traffic would create 'difficulties' for UK imports and exports in the busy Christmas period.
Andrew Opie, the BRC's director of nutrition and sustainability, said any "persistent" disruption in the run-up to the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31st would be a problem.
"While goods can enter from France, few freight forwarders will be willing to send trucks and drivers to the UK with no guarantee that they can get back to the EU on time," he said.
& # 39; This is an important supply route for fresh produce at this time of year.
& # 39; We urge the UK Government and the EU to come up with a pragmatic solution as soon as possible to avoid disruptions for consumers. Retailers have stocked up on goods ahead of Christmas which should prevent immediate problems.
"However, a prolonged closure of the French border would be a problem as the UK enters in the final weeks before the end of the transition on December 31st."
People stocked up on loo roll at the Tesco Cash and Carry in Cambridge on Monday as people flocked to the supermarkets
Liverpool's Asda store saw its shelves depleted today as shoppers rushed to the supermarket for their Christmas shopping
These women left with a full shopping trolley after their festive groceries trip to the Asda store in Liverpool
Toilet roll and kitchen towel supplies were snapped up at the Liverpool superstore in Merseyside
Three main problems causing delays in UK ports
Problems in ports are caused by a number of problems that are concurrent and not unique to the UK. Industry insiders say that there are three main problems behind the chaos:
COVID – Lack of shipping containers
The system for shipping goods around the world stopped working properly when the economies closed and reopened at different times when they dealt with Covid.
This left shipping companies lagging behind when it came to fetching empty containers from European ports and bringing them back to factories in Asia.
The shortage of containers is exacerbated by the shortage of manpower across the global supply chain – including seafarers, shippers, and warehouse workers – due to illness or quarantine.
The problems caused by Covid have been exacerbated by an increase in demand caused by:
BREXIT – Customs and storage
If the UK leaves the EU without an agreement, tariffs will be applied to imported goods according to World Trade Organization rules at the end of the transition period.
Companies are therefore storing goods out of fear of having to pay customs duties or because they fear that new customs procedures after Brexit will delay imports.
Around Christmas, the demand for goods keeps increasing, which makes the problems worse.
The Port of Dover is a key UK port and some 10,000 lorries a day travel through Dover, which accounts for 20 per cent of all goods brought and sold in UK.
Only lorries dropping off freight at the port before driving back out again were allowed through yesterday.
Freight forwarders coming to the UK from France are still allowed to enter, but there are fears that truck drivers will not travel to avoid being “stranded” in the UK.
The Irish government also imposed a 48-hour ban on flights from Britain and said ferries would be restricted to freight only.
The Port of Dover said in a statement: 'Due to border restrictions in France access to the Ferry Terminal at the Port of Dover remains suspended to all accompanied traffic leaving the UK until further notice.
'Accompanied freight and passenger customers are asked not to travel to the Port. Unaccompanied traffic continues to be allowed into France. All traffic into the UK is currently unaffected by those restrictions.'
But logistics companies urged people not to panic, saying that fresh produce will continue to be available.
Logistics UK, the business group representing the entire industry with members from the road, rail, sea and air industries, said retailers will have taken steps to ensure there is no shortage of fresh produce.
The organisation's general manager Alex Veitch said: 'Shoppers should not panic buy – retailers will be making every effort to ensure there is stock within the system, including fresh produce, and it is important that we remember that inbound traffic still has access to the UK.
& # 39; We are in close contact with the UK Government to ensure fresh produce is available during the Christmas and New Year season.
"We advise members to check with the ports before commencing their voyage and to stay in close contact with the drivers to ensure that their well-being is maintained."
Operation Stack was being implemented on the M20 in Kent yesterday. The system means that parts of the motorway are reserved for parking trucks queuing for canal ports. Kent airport, which is currently closed has also been put on standby to take 4,000 stranded HGVs.
People took shelter from the rain as they queued outside a Tesco store in Cardiff, South Wales
Queues formed outside Cardiff's Marks and Spencers today as people rushed to the shops to do last minute Christmas shopping
Shoppers in the centre of Bristol, as people in Tier 2 areas of coronavirus restrictions continue with their Christmas preparations
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps also urged travelers and shippers to avoid the ports of Kent or other routes to France for fear of further slaughter on the streets.
Road Haulage Association (RHA) boss Richard Burnett, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the government should bring forward their contingency plans for a no-deal Brexit in the New Year and use the measures to control the current travel ban chaos.
This included opening the truck parks in Kent, prepared to take high numbers of vehicles should there ever be a difficult post-Brexit transition period.
One person on social media, who claims he is a truck driver, posted on social media that he had been queueing in his lorry since Friday.
He warned of an impending 'humanitarian crisis' and said there were no toilets available for stranded truckers.
A 23 mile section of the motorway from Junction 8 near Maidstone and Junction 11 at Folkestone has been turned into a lorry park to avoid congestion in the Port of Dover and at the tunnel.
The Highways Agency said: 'All drivers – including all hauliers – are being advised to avoid travelling to Kent ports until further notice as part of the coastbound M20 is being used to stack lorries due to cross channel travel restrictions.
'As a result, Operation Stack has been activated between junctions 8 for Maidstone East and junction 11 for Westenhanger.
Operation Stack is where parts of the M20 are closed to queue lorries that are travelling towards the continent, to avoid causing gridlock across Kent's road network.
'The measures follow the French government's announcement it will not accept any passengers arriving from the UK for the next 48 hours, and the subsequent closures of the Port of Dover and Channel Tunnel.
'Highways England is working closely with the Department for Transport, Kent Resilience Forum, Kent Council and Kent Police to ensure contingency measures are urgently put in place to manage disruption.'
The newly introduced Tier 4 restrictions mean that all non-essential stores and retailers in areas like London, Kent, Essex, Surrey – with the exception of Waverley – and Bedfordshire will close.
People queue outside a Waitrose supermarket in Harrow, London, with many wearing masks as they waited outside
The scenes in Harrow were similar to those witnessed at supermarkets across the UK, with long queues continuing throughout the day as people flocked to get their groceries
It came after the French announced a travel ban, but said they would attempt to reopen the border within hours after the closure caused chaos in the UK
Non-essential toys and video games were blocked off by cases of beer at the Asda store in Cardiff following the Welsh government lockdown announcement
Aisles of toys are unavailable for sale in an Asda supermarket in Wales as they are deemed a 'non-essential' item
The products have been blocked off to shoppers under the newly imposed Welsh coronavirus lockdown rules
Candles and other items in the shop were given labels telling consumers not to purchase them as they did their grocery shopping
The note said items deemed 'non-essential' under the 'firebreak' lockdown regulations would not be sold
Supermarkets, pharmacies, and gas stations remained on the government's approval list – as did the less obvious Christmas tree vendors, dry cleaners, archery and shooting ranges, and outdoor equestrian centers.
The last minute announcement gave the British just eight hours to complete their gift purchases before Christmas Day before the rules went into effect at midnight.
Major roads and trains in Tier 4 regions were abandoned yesterday when all non-essential stores closed their doors. The subway stations were also empty after travel out of the capital was restricted.
Also, people with the highest disabilities cannot mix indoors with people outside their home.
It came when Wales was put into a complete lockdown from midnight on Saturday – forcing all non-essential businesses to close their doors and cut the Christmas bubbles into a single day. Non-essential toys and products were also blocked off by cases of beer at one supermarket in Cardiff.