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Dreaming of a dry Christmas? Festive booze warning as industry chiefs write to Government

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Dreaming of a dry Christmas? Festive booze warning as industry chiefs say there will be smaller ranges of spirits and wine and fewer offers unless government tackles supply chain crisis

  • Wine and Spirits Trade Association (WSTA) wrote to the transport secretary
  • Told Grant Shapps they needed temporary visa scheme to be extended
  • HGV driver shortage is having an impact on the supply chain of wine  










Industry chiefs have warned there will be smaller ranges of spirits and wine as well as fewer offers unless the Government tackles the supply chain crisis.  

The Wine and Spirits Trade Association (WSTA) wrote to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps telling him companies are still struggling to get drinks to customers and urged ministers to ‘ease the burden’ caused by the HGV driver shortage.

Some 49 businesses including Moët Hennessy UK, Laurent-Perrier UK, Pernod Ricard UK, C&C Group and Matthew Clark, put their names to the letter.

‘There is mounting concern amongst our membership that unless urgent action is taken, we will fall deeper into delivery chaos,’ said WSTA CEO Miles Beale.

‘We are already seeing major delays on wine and spirit delivery times which is pushing up costs and limiting the range of products available to UK consumers.’

The Wine and Spirits Trade Association (WSTA) wrote to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps telling him companies are still struggling to get drinks to customers and urged ministers to 'ease the burden' caused by the HGV driver shortage (file image)

The Wine and Spirits Trade Association (WSTA) wrote to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps telling him companies are still struggling to get drinks to customers and urged ministers to ‘ease the burden’ caused by the HGV driver shortage (file image)

Mr Beale told BBC Radio 4 this morning: ‘We’re not suggesting anything too dramatic. We don’t want to see panic buying of wines and spirits. 

Which boozy brands could be affected? 

Moët Hennessy UK 

Laurent-Perrier UK

Pernod Ricard UK

C&C Group

Matthew Clark 

‘What we’re saying is the sort of thing consumers will see is fewer offers. The sort of offers you expect to get in the run up to Christmas. Smaller ranges on supermarket and other shop shelves and probably some new brands. 

‘You might have trouble finding the brands you’re used to and have to find something else instead. A bit less choice, few new brands and frankly not the same level of offer you expect to see in the run up to Christmas.’

The WSTA said its members reported importing products was taking up to five times longer than it did a year ago, with businesses that had previously been able to fulfil orders in two to three days experiencing shipments taking 15 days to process.

It also noted that freight costs had increased by 7 percent, as delivery firms have had to increase HGV drivers’ wages to retain them.

The WSTA wants Shapps to extend a temporary visa scheme for HGV drivers from February 28, 2022, to a minimum of one year, to ease the burden on industry and allow for a sufficient increase in domestic drivers.

Freight costs had increased by 7 percent, as delivery firms have had to increase HGV drivers' wages to retain them. Pictured, HGV driver in Berkshire in July

Freight costs had increased by 7 percent, as delivery firms have had to increase HGV drivers’ wages to retain them. Pictured, HGV driver in Berkshire in July

It also wants his department to facilitate better routing of freight from ports and smaller UK-based driver networks for short-haul journeys.

The UK government said it did not expect disruptions to the supply of alcohol this Christmas, however. 

‘The government acted quickly to tackle the challenges to our supply chains, which were brought on by global pressures including the pandemic and the international shortage of HGV drivers,’ said a government spokesperson, noting 32 steps taken to tackle the shortage.

Britain’s two biggest supermarket groups, Tesco and Sainsbury’s, are currently running big wine promotions, indicating no immediate threat to wine supplies.  

There WILL be less food available to buy this Christmas, trade union boss warns

There will be a reduced range of food items available to buy this Christmas due to supply chain issues, MPs were warned today.

Shane Brennan, chief executive of the Cold Chain Federation, said the sector is focussing on supplying ‘the stuff you expect to see on the shelves, but not necessarily all the extras’.

He told the Commons Transport Select Committee that global shipping supplies are in ‘an unprecedented period of stress’ and it is taking two or three days for fresh food arriving at UK ports to be delivered to stores, whereas this would normally happen on a same day or next day basis.

The supply chain is facing a number of pressures, such as drivers leaving the industry and difficulties recruiting new ones, border issues and delays with the movement of shipping containers.

Mr Brennan told MPs: ‘It’s not about shortages, it’s about simplifying. Having less range obviously is one of the key decisions you can make in trying to make supply chains more efficient.

‘And it’s about reducing the amount of goods you’re expected to put on the shelves and then working with the customer base to actually make that clear.

‘We are very good at piling high and selling cheap at Christmas time. What we have to do is strategically scale that back in order to meet the promise that there will be the stuff you expect to see on the shelves, but not necessarily all the extras.’ 

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