The global supply chain crisis and the “havoc” of the Covid-19 pandemic is being “exacerbated by Brexit” in the UK, a North West ingredients company has said.
Tasneem Alonzo, joint managing director of Stockport-based herb and spice business EHL Ingredients, added her company is facing delays in shipping coming in to the UK from India, China, Turkey and Vietnam while the HGV driver shortage is also impacting the firm.
She also warned that a driver retention surcharge, known as a DRS and which is being added to deliveries, will mean prices will go up and the consumer will end up paying more.
The joint MD told BusinessLive: “We have been experiencing supply chain, logistics and staffing issues since around May this year so have been doing everything we can to meet the challenges and alleviate pressures.
“We anticipated that the problems would become more severe so we have booked advance stock and ordered more than usual to ensure steady flow of goods coming into our warehouse and going out to our customers.
“We are currently experiencing delays in shipping coming in to the UK from India, China, Turkey and Vietnam. There is a shortage of containers and there are delays in containers reaching Felixstowe/Liverpool, as they are being diverted to Rotterdam and then waiting for feeder vessels to bring them over to the UK.
“And there is the driver shortage too so it’s difficult to get containers around the country once they are in.
“Due to Brexit, there are extended lead times as there is more paperwork and customs clearance needed, and extra duty charges are being applied on goods that were not there before.
“Some European delivery companies will not deliver to the UK as drivers are getting held up at Customs.
“On Covid – this is still causing havoc with local lockdowns in India/Vietnam and Turkey.
“These are all global issues but they are being exacerbated by Brexit here in the UK.”
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The company recently launched a desperate hunt for staff after shortages caused by Covid-19, the ‘pingdemic’ and a lack of UK-based workers due to Brexit.
The company’s shipments contain dried herbs and spices, flours, seeds, nuts, pulses, beans which are destined for the UK food manufacturing and hospitality sectors.
Its main customers are food manufacturers and food producers – from small craft food products, through to large scale food manufacturers making prepared foods, bakery items, meals kits and spice blends.
The firm also supplies to pub groups, bars and restaurants, and wholesalers and cash and carries, as well as to speciality food stores, organic food shops.
Tasneem Alonzo added: “There are so many issues that have become interlinked all at the same time, so we don’t know how long this will go on for.
“We’d like to think that by the end of the year things will settle down, but it’s going to be a tough few months in the run up to Christmas and we are already feeling the pressure.
“We don’t know what position we will be in going into 2022 but it needs action from the Government and industry bodies immediately.
“On the other hand, these could be teething problems that could go on for years to come.
“It is having a knock on effect on our customers – so retailers, food manufacturers, restaurants and pubs, and wholesalers will also experience the shortages and delays to their supplies.
“Pubs and restaurants are having to reduce menus and remove dishes if they can’t get hold of the ingredients, and retailers have empty shelves in certain aisles if stock hasn’t arrived.
“We know it will affect smaller companies as well as large scale operations – so if a craft or independent bakery is planning to launch/bake Christmas foods, they may well see shortages in dried ingredients being delivered, or on shelves.
“While bigger food manufacturing plants will also be hit with the shortage or delay of the ingredients in bulk, and of drivers delivering them to their site.
“It’s a really challenging time for the whole food industry.
“While we are experiencing these challenges, we also anticipated this would happen so we have placed orders early, booked stock in advance and ordered larger quantities so we’re optimistic we’ll be able to fulfil all our pre-Christmas orders.”
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