Food prices may go up, says hauliers’ association

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Shoppers should brace themselves for the higher prices in food items, hauliers’ association have warned citing systemic changes to the supply chain.

Road Haulage Association (RHA) on Thursday (26) declared that the “substantial” pay rises that are being offered by firms to lure more drivers is likely to force outlets to pass the costs on to customers, reports said.

Rod McKenzie, managing director of policy and public affairs at the Road Haulage Association, told PA that the shortage of drivers needs urgent government action and firms have been offering better incentives and pay deals to secure potential recruits.

“Certainly drivers’ pay is increasing, often by quite substantial amounts,” he said.

“This in turn is a cost that will need to be passed on, and given the tight profit margins of most haulage operators that means their rates to customers will have to go up.

“In turn, this may mean more of us paying higher prices for goods, services and shopping – including food prices – going forward,” he said, as per reports.

There is now a shortage of more than 100,000 drivers in the UK, mainly including tens of thousands of drivers from EU member states who were living and working in the UK. Even before Covid, the estimated shortage was about 60,000 drivers.

Post-Brexit immigration rules mean drivers from the EU are now unable to easily take up jobs in Britain. Ministers are, however, reportedly rejecting calls to relax immigration rules to abate the crisis.

While long term labour shortages have been exacerbated by the pandemic, Brexit has certainly compounded the crisis, and now industry figures are warning that even more severe disruption awaits later this year and beyond when the government introduces checks on goods entering the UK from the EU.

The new paperwork, which will be introduced in stages from Oct 1, is expected to result in delays to food and drink coming into the UK from the continent, reports said.