Supplies of Lucozade Energy have been hit by industrial action at owner SBF GB&I

The death of a worker at a Lucozade and Ribena production facility in Gloucestershire is likely to lead to further shortages of the drinks, Suntory Beverage & Food GB&I (SBF GB&I) has admitted.

A 50-year-old man was airlifted from the factory in Colefield to Southmead Hospital, Bristol on 22 April but died on 25 April, Gloucestershire Police confirmed this week.

In a message to wholesalers seen by The Grocer, SBF GB&I warned the fatality would compound supply chain challenges it was already facing, as it had been forced to cease production in the wake of the incident.

SBF GB&I said it was “working hard to resume service as quickly as possible under the circumstances”, but warned of a “lengthy gap in availability of most Lucozade SKUs”. 

“Following a serious incident at Suntory’s Lucozade production facility, a significant production pause has been applied, which has compounded the already difficult situation they were facing with operational efficiencies and supply issues,” the company said. 

SBF GB&I COO Carol Robert said she was “deeply saddened” by the fatality, adding the business was “in close communication with the family of the employee”.

A poster shared by wholesaler Parfetts and seen by The Grocer shed further light on supply issues already blighting the supplier, following a now resolved industrial dispute which shut down production for seven days in February.

In the poster – which SBF GB&I said was outdated – Parfetts said the Ribena maker had “experienced several challenges in recent weeks that had resulted in very poor supply into Parfetts and the rest of the trade”.

It said Lucozade Energy flavours were in short supply due to February’s industrial action, adding SBF GB&I had indicated “some recovery” was expected by the end of April.

Supply of Ribena products was expected to fully recover by mid-May after a subcontracted supply partner for the drinks “failed”, the poster claimed.

Lucozade’s trio of new ‘Blucozade’ drinks, meanwhile, had “exceeded Suntory expectations”, and ramping up production to meet demand was likely to “take at least six weeks”, it added.

Contacted by The Grocer, Parfetts deferred to the statement from SBF GB&I, adding only that it would “keep customers informed” as the situation evolved.

The Grocer has contacted other wholesalers for comment.