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Supermarket shelves hit by Brexit port chaos and staff shortages as stores run low on fruit and veg

We’re fresh out of fresh food! Supermarket shelves are hit by Brexit port chaos and staff shortages as stores start to run low on fruit and veg

  • Gaps are appearing on fruit and vegetable shelves due to Brexit red tape at ports
  • Lettuce, cauliflower packs and oranges are ‘out of stock’ in Tesco’s in some areas
  • Supermarket chaos is also thought to be caused by staff shortages due to Covid

Gaps are appearing on supermarket fruit and veg shelves amid warnings that supplies are being squeezed by Brexit red tape at ports and staff shortages at food producers due to Covid.

Lettuce, cauliflower packs, oranges, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries are listed as ‘out of stock’ in some areas on Tesco’s website while prepared carrots, cauliflower and broccoli were among the fruit and veg listed as being unavailable on Ocado’s.

The problem at food production plants of staff going sick or needing to shield or self-isolate is an issue for the entire food industry, particularly chicken and red meat processors. 

Gaps appearing on supermarket fruit and veg shelves are thought to be due to Brexit red tape at ports and staff shortages at food producers due to Covid. Pictured: Empty fruit and veg shelves in Sainsbury’s in Cambridge on Jan 6

Meanwhile, food industry experts and the Cabinet minister with responsibility for Brexit, Michael Gove, have warned that problems at the ports are likely to escalate from today as the number of trucks going through Dover and the Channel Tunnel rises to normal levels after a New Year lull as the French step up enforcement of post-Brexit paperwork.

Freight expert John Shirley said: ‘The chaos has begun. Organising even the simplest load to Europe has become an almost impossible task due to the mountain of red tape brought in on January 1.’

The Road Haulage Association said there are already logjams and this situation will escalate when border controls with France are stepped up from today.

Lettuce, cauliflower packs, oranges, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries are listed as ¿out of stock¿ in some areas on Tesco¿s website. Pictured: Sainsbury's runs low on fruit and veg in Haverhill, Suffolk

Lettuce, cauliflower packs, oranges, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries are listed as ‘out of stock’ in some areas on Tesco’s website. Pictured: Sainsbury’s runs low on fruit and veg in Haverhill, Suffolk

Meanwhile, food industry experts and the Cabinet minister with responsibility for Brexit, Michael Gove, have warned that problems at the ports are likely to escalate from today

Meanwhile, food industry experts and the Cabinet minister with responsibility for Brexit, Michael Gove, have warned that problems at the ports are likely to escalate from today

The group estimates that of the 2,000 outbound lorries a day through Dover and the Channel Tunnel last week, one in five were turned back. 

It said problems will surge as these numbers increase to the normal 6,000 a day. 

Its managing director for policy, Rod McKenzie, said: ‘Drivers are being turned back for a variety of reasons, including not having a valid Covid test. At the same time, they are being told the paperwork has not been done satisfactorily.

‘The French have had a relatively light touch on enforcement so far, but they won’t from Monday.’

Mr Gove admitted: ‘In the weeks ahead, we expect there will be significant additional disruption.’

Freight expert John Shirley said: ¿The chaos has begun. Organising even the simplest load to Europe has become an almost impossible task due to the mountain of red tape brought in on January 1.¿ Pictured: Toilet paper shelves at a supermarket in West Yorkshire are empty

Freight expert John Shirley said: ‘The chaos has begun. Organising even the simplest load to Europe has become an almost impossible task due to the mountain of red tape brought in on January 1.’ Pictured: Toilet paper shelves at a supermarket in West Yorkshire are empty

Commercial director at fresh produce wholesaler Nature’s Choice, Vernon Mascarenhas, said: ‘We will begin to see gaps on shelves from this Wednesday. The only way to resolve it is for the Government to sort out the paperwork issue. This should have been at the top of the Government’s agenda, but it did not even cross their radar.’

Meanwhile, Sir Keir Starmer told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show yesterday that Labour will no longer campaign to restore free movement with the EU. 

He said the Brexit deal was ‘thin’ but the public would ‘expect us to make it work’ if Labour wins power. 

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