One in six people have been unable to buy essential food in the last fortnight, according to the Office for National Statistics, as Brits book up Christmas delivery slots
Millions of Brits have been unable to buy essential food in the past fortnight with one in three already started stockpiling for Christmas.
New figures from the Office for National Statistics show about one in six adults in Britain – representing up to eight million people – have been unable to buy essential food in the last two weeks as Brexit and Covid-related supply chain problems mount.
The latest statistics reveal the ongoing food crisis shows no signs of abating, exacerbated by the lorry driver crisis that is affecting supply chains across the country.
Some 17% of adults said they had not been able to purchase such goods because they were not available, and almost a quarter (23%) said the same for non-essential food items.
A survey by The Grocer shows two thirds of shoppers say they are either worried or very worried by potential shortages of food and drink ahead of the festive season.
Hundreds of thousands of people have already booked in their delivery slots for Christmas, and one in three have already begun to stock up on groceries.
Waitrose saw 22,000 Christmas slots booked by lunchtime on the first day of releasing their dates last week, and another 112,000 booked by the end of the week.
Ocado customers who tried to book a Christmas slot as soon as booking opened also found they were already sold out.
It comes as Boris Johnson has appointed former Tesco boss Sir Dave Lewis to advise on how to fix the supply chain crisis, in a sign that Downing Street is growing increasingly concerned.
Meanwhile, the government is reportedly considering keeping army personnel to drive HGV lorries until Christmas, according to the Telegraph.
Multiple senior government figures have indicated they are willing to extend the Military Assistance to Civilian Authorities [MACA] order that allows soldiers to be drafted in.
Schools have also been warned to stockpile certain foods as some are proving harder to source, with the problem like to continue until at least February.
ISS, one of the UK’s largest canteen suppliers, has told the 450 schools it cooks meals for that it is having issues with the “sourcing, packing and distribution” of food supplies.
In an email seen by ITV News, staff in ISS school kitchens have been urged to “top up on long life, dried, tinned and frozen products to ensure that there will always be some form of food available in a worse case scenario.”
The government has pledged more support to help people to become HGV drivers, as well as a raft of measures to try and ease the risk of shortages.
The plans include up to 4,000 people being trained as new HGV drivers, using MOD examiners to help increase immediate HGV testing capacity by thousands over the next 12 weeks and nearly 1 million letters sent to drivers already with a HGV driving licence, encouraging them back into the industry.
The UK has also experienced fuel shortages, and panic buying from the public, seeing petrol prices rise to 136.1p a litre, the highest level for eight years.
Petrol prices have also risen to 136.1p a litre – the highest level for eight years – hitting households with a triple blow of increases, with energy bills rising in October as furlough ends and a £20 a week cut to Universal Credit kicks in.