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The warning was made in a letter sent by the UK Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WTSA) to UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps last week. It was signed by 48 members of the professional association, including champagne and cognac producers Moet Hennessy, owned by LVMH (LVMHF), and Laurent-Perrier.

“This is an urgent issue for our businesses, and it is imperative that [the UK] The government is taking immediate action to help alleviate the impact of the pre-Christmas driver shortage crisis, ”the letter said.

Industry wants help with better routing of cargo from ports, as well as more regular updates from the government on how quickly it processes test drives and heavy-duty (PL) driver’s licenses .

He also urged the government to extend for one year a temporary visa program allowing overseas drivers to fill in the gaps in the longer term. The three-month program is scheduled to expire on February 28 of next year.

“We are already seeing significant delays in delivery times for wines and spirits, increasing costs and limiting the range of products available to UK consumers,” WSTA Managing Director Miles Beale said in a statement. .

In 2019, 54% of adults in England reported drinking alcohol at least once a week, according to a UK parliament study.

The Beverage Industry Association said it took some of its members up to five times longer to import wine and spirits than a year ago. He also said costs are rising have been passed on to importers by freight forwarders who have to pay more for rare drivers.

Ed Baker, Managing Director of Kingsland Drinks wine distributor, said his company refills around 185 million bottles of wine each year, or “about one in eight bottles” drunk in the UK.

The backlog of deliveries mean container spaces at rail hubs are in high demand, he said in a statement.

“We would normally expect to have 80 to 100 tank locations, but at the moment we can be down from 10 to 20. This limits the amount of liquid arriving at our plant and adds to the shortage of weight drivers. heavy-duty deliveries, “says Boulanger.

The UK government said in a statement that it did not expect a disruption in the supply of alcohol on Christmas.

“The government has acted swiftly to address the challenges in our supply chains, which have been triggered by global pressures, including the pandemic and the international shortage of heavy truck drivers,” a government spokesperson said.

The shortage of truck drivers sparked a fuel crisis earlier this year, with many gas stations closed and long lines for those lucky enough to stock up. In September, the British government deployed Army tankers to fill fuel supply gaps.
Supermarkets have also been struggling for months to keep their shelves fully stocked amid a tight supply chain caused by the pandemic and worker shortages caused in part by the country’s departure from the European Union.

Some EU workers left after Brexit, and farms, food processing factories and trucking companies can no longer recruit in the European Union due to new UK immigration rules.

The government issued 5,000 temporary visas for foreign drivers, but the UK’s Road Haulage Association said Britain needed 100,000 more drivers to meet demand.

Farmers, bankers, retailers, logistics companies and restaurateurs have all warned the government in recent months that tougher immigration rules put in place after Britain left the European Union was preventing them to find workers and run their businesses.

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