lorries traffic motorway road

The UK government is proposing to fast-track empty supermarket food lorries returning to Europe to restock, as concerns mount in Whitehall that post-Brexit port disruption threatened supermarket supply shortages (The Financial Times £).

UK supermarket chains have demanded government intervention to prevent “unworkable” new Brexit regulations causing disruption to food supplies to Northern Ireland (Sky News).

Problems importing and exporting food “will get worse”, MPs have been warned (The Telegraph). Industry leaders giving evidence to the select committee on Britain’s future relationship with the EU issued the stark warning.

The government will have “no hesitation” in taking unilateral action to protect trade between Britain and Northern Ireland if post-Brexit disruption to food supplies and trade continues, Boris Johnson warned the EU yesterday (The Times £).

The cost of shipping goods from Europe to the UK has risen sharply this year, raising the prospect of higher prices for French cheese, German sausages and other imports together worth tens of billions of pounds (The Times £).

Deliveries of fresh Scottish seafood to the EU have been halted until 18 January, after post-Brexit problems with health checks, IT systems and customs documents caused a huge backlog (The Guardian).

Lock down living has driven a surge in demand at Lidl and the food courier Just Eat, with both companies posting strong sales for the final weeks of 2020 (The Guardian).

Lidl has celebrated a record Christmas in the UK as customers switched to the discount supermarket for festive treats including panettone and pink prosecco (The Guardian).

Lidl has vowed to plough ahead with its rapid store expansion plans after enjoying ‘record’ Christmas sales (The Mail).

The German supermarket said total sales in Britain grew by 17.9 per cent compared with last year, which it said was higher than sales growth at Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons and Aldi, according to industry figures by Kantar (The Times £).

Just Eat Takeaway.com is going to war in London with its UK rivals Deliveroo and Uber Eats, as the Amsterdam-headquartered food delivery group increases investment in its own courier network (The Financial Times £).

Locked-down consumers across Europe ordered 57% more takeaways from the continent’s biggest delivery group in the final three months of 2020 than a year earlier (The Guardian).

The FTSE 100 food delivery operator created by the merger of Just Eat and Takeaway.com emphasised its position as one of the winners from the pandemic with a 57 per cent rise in fourth-quarter orders to 179.8 million (The Times £).

Pasta Evangelists has agreed a deal worth roughly £40m to be taken over by Barilla Group, a 133-year-old pasta and bakery enterprise, according to Sky News.

The London-based pasta start-up is backed by the Great British Bake Off judge Prue Leith (The Times £).

The deal would provide TV star Leith with a handsome payday along with other early investors, restaurant critics Giles Coren and William Sitwell (The Mail).

The boss of Unilever has said his office workers will never return to their desks five days a week, in the latest indication that coronavirus will transform modern working life (The Guardian).

Shareholders in Compass Group have called on the catering company to answer “critical questions” after its subsidiary was accused of providing inadequate food parcels to disadvantaged children across the UK (The Financial Times £).

John Lewis became the first big retailer to suspend its click-and-collect service yesterday amid pressure on shops to do more to help to contain the virus (The Times £).

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has backed John Lewis’s decision to suspend its click and collect service despite industry leaders saying the service is “very low risk” and a “lifeline” for many small businesses (The Telegraph).

Canadian convenience store group Alimentation Couche-Tard has approached France’s Carrefour about a takeover that would combine two retail groups jointly worth more than $50bn (The Financial Times £).

Carrefour shows not even Europe’s largest retailers are immune to takeover talk, says Sky News.

Pizza Express has sounded a warning over its ability to continue trading after its accounts revealed the troubled chain slumped to a £350m loss even before the pandemic hit (The Telegraph).

Insects have come closer to becoming a staple in European diets after the EU’s food safety agency deemed the yellow mealworm safe for human consumption (The Financial Times £).

Debenhams’ flagship Oxford Street store is one of six that will not reopen once the current round of Covid-19 restrictions are eased, as hopes fade for a rescue of the UK department store group (The Financial Times £).

The department store chain, which is being wound down, said shops in Portsmouth, Staines, Harrogate, Weymouth and Worcester would also shut permanently (The Guardian).