The boss of Sainsbury’s has reassured customers there “will be plenty of food” this Christmas despite the supply chain crisis.
Retailers have warned recently that disruption to the global supply chain due to Covid-19 and a shortage of lorry drivers is likely to affect Christmas supermarket shelves.
There is estimated to be a shortfall of around 100,000 lorry drivers in the UK, and soaring energy prices have also added to the cost of food production and logistics.
Farmers have also been forced to throw away an “unprecedented” amount of food because they do to have the staff to pick, process and deliver food.
But responding to reports that stocks of festive favourites - including pigs in blankets and turkeys - have been hit by the disruption, Sainsbury’s chief executive Simon Roberts sought to reassure shoppers that they are “working flat out” to make sure shelves are well stocked.
Mr Roberts said: “I want to reassure you that there will be plenty of food and that we are confident that, even if the exact product you are looking for isn’t available, there will be a good alternative.”
He added: "Stores will be getting regular deliveries right up until Christmas Eve and longer-life products such as Christmas cakes and puddings, mince pies, nuts and cranberry sauce are already available."
The chief executive said he expects Sainsbury's to sell more turkeys than ever before this year "but if you can’t wait until they arrive on 19th December, frozen turkeys are already in store, as well as frozen party food".
It comes after poultry industry leaders warned that farmers will produce around 20 per cent fewer turkeys this year because of a shortage of labour that has been exacerbated by Brexit.
The government extended a temporary visa scheme to allow in foreign workers to staff poultry production lines but the British Poultry Council said the measure had come too late to boost production to normal level for this time of year.
Mr Roberts added: "Fresh party food will arrive in stores from mid-November and, from 1st December, shelves will be well stocked with all your favourite fresh festive products - from pigs in blankets to Christmas cheeses."
He concluded: "I hope this helps you in planning for the festive season. All our colleagues and store teams are ready to do all we can to safely serve and help you in the weeks ahead."
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