Haribo has warned that the lorry driver shortage has left it struggling to deliver its much-loved sweets to UK shops.
Popular items like jelly babies, gummy bears and mini-fried eggs could all be affected with the German firm the latest to be hit by supply chain issues.
A Haribo spokesperson said that it was ‘experiencing challenges’ that were hampering supplies, like many other manufacturers and retailers.
It comes after a driver shortage triggered calls for the Army to be on standby to deliver food to convenience stores, pubs, restaurants and care homes.
The Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD) says the situation has reached crisis point, leading to bare shelves and a risk of empty plates.
A Haribo spokesperson said that it was ‘experiencing challenges’ that were hampering supplies, like many other manufacturers and retailers
The Road Haulage Association believes there is a shortfall of about 70,000 drivers.
It also believes that around 30,000 HGV driving tests did not take place last year because of the pandemic.
Experts also say that the double impact from Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic has sparked disruption to the chilled food supply chain.
Haribo is the latest to fall victim to the shortage, with the company being reportedly forced to cancel planned promotions on its share bags.
A spokesperson said: ‘As is the case with many manufacturers and retailers throughout the country, we are experiencing challenges with regards to the nationwide driver shortage.
‘We are working with partners across the food and drink industry to address and respond to this problem.’
The firm has told wholesale and retail customers it had a number of problems in the supply chain and was ‘working flat out to manage the situation’, according to trade paper the Grocer.
The lack of lorry drivers has led to fears of a shortage in a range of products, with the pandemic and Brexit being blamed.
Typically, 72,000 candidates train to become HGV drivers, with 40,000 passing. But only 15,000 were able to complete training last year, the Road Haulage Association said.
The RHA has written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson warning many drivers also returned to their country of origin during extended periods of lockdown and restricted travel, with the vast majority not returning.
The Road Haulage Association believes there is a shortfall of about 70,000 drivers. It also believes that around 30,000 HGV driving tests did not take place last year because of the pandemic
He was also quizzed on the issue at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday this week.
Brexit is also playing a part in the shortage, according to the RHA, with many drivers unsure of their rights to work in the UK.
Retailers have been complaining for months over the issues, including Tesco and Currys PC World acknowledging the impact.
Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, recently said: ‘Retailers are aware of a fall in HGV driver numbers, resulting in minor disruption to some supply chains.
‘Supermarkets are working closely with their suppliers to ensure that consumers still have access to the same great selection of goods.
‘Government must rapidly increase the number of HGV driving tests taking place while also looking for a longer-term solution to this issue.’
Local convenience stores are now resorting to putting up notices warning customers of shortages due to the lack of delivery drivers.
Pub and restaurant chains are also not getting the fresh produce deliveries they expect.
Supplies of beer, milk and other chilled products are being hit, while there are fears the situation might affect tanker deliveries of fuel to petrol stations.
James Bielby, chief executive of the FWD, said there is an estimated 70,000 shortfall in HGV drivers.
The Road Haulage Association said the crisis has been triggered by a combination of Brexit, which has led to a cut in European truckers, and Covid, which has seen no new HGV drivers trained for a year.
Mr Bielby said: ‘The situation has reached crisis point and it is likely to get worse as more hospitality venues open and demand increases. The Government needs to act very quickly.
‘We are concerned enough to suggest that the Government considers having Army trucks on standby to ensure there are enough vehicles and drivers to distribute food.’
It comes after Tim O’Malley, managing director of Nationwide Produce PLC – one of the biggest companies supplying fruit and vegetables to supermarkets and restaurants across Britain – warned fruit and vegetables are rotting in cold stores because of a major shortage of HGV drivers.
He has warned that perfectly good food is being left to rot as there are not enough truck drivers to transport produce across the country.
In an article in the Fresh Produce Journal, Mr O’Malley warned that his industry has been hit by Brexit, Covid-19 and changes to the tax system of HGV agency drivers.
Mr O’Malley wrote: ‘The acute shortage of HGV drivers is now the direct cause of perfectly good, graded and packed fresh produce being dumped or left rotting in cold stores, waiting for wheels to go under it.
‘Supermarket shelves and restaurant plates are going empty, and this is now a crisis of national importance.’