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The charity also fears many are holding back on donations because of concerns over availability

Food redistribution charity FareShare has described the coming Christmas period as “terrifying” after it revealed many of the usual guarantees of surplus from retailers and suppliers had been held back because of fears over the supply crisis.

CEO Lindsay Boswell told The Grocer there was uncertainty around whether the food industry was going to have the HGV capacity to get the surplus food to FareShare during the high-demand holiday trading period.

“Lack of transport is definitely making it harder for organisations to donate the food to us,” he said. “Retailers are all doing their best, but they’re also being reasonable and saying, ‘we can’t guarantee it because of the stress that our logistics supply chain is under’. And we really sympathise with them.”

Boswell said FareShare expected its food volumes to be 20% lower than they would have been without the lorry driver crisis. On average, FareShare gets out 730 tonnes of food per week, which equates to 1,738,130 meals. A 20% drop would mean 347,626 fewer meals.

The charity also fears many are holding back on donations, which go to hundreds of food banks and other charities, because of concerns over availability.

“We’re facing a great deal of uncertainty in terms of crude volumes, but we get that that’s in line with the rest of the industry. Quite rightly, they will prioritise their commercial customers and keeping shelves stocked,” Boswell added.

Read more: FareShare highlights food waste on side of Houses of Parliament

FareShare’s surplus food volumes have returned to a more normal figure since the summer months when they were down by a third due to the supply crisis, but a spokeswoman said there was still “terrifying uncertainty over Christmas” and warned it was facing a greater threat to suppliers than ever.

“Normally we are given guarantees about the amount of food we will receive over the Christmas period,” she said. “This Christmas we have been given no such guarantee.”

But the charity also sought to reassure the industry that it was geared up to handle donations and that it would do its best to get them to frontline charities.

FareShare has invested in three new trucks that don’t require an HGV licence to help boost redistribution supplies in Yorkshire, the Midlands and London, and it is also looking at increasing that number in the future.

“Our appeal to the food industry is – we are in need of your surplus food now more than ever, and we’ll do our utmost to get it to frontline charities if you can work with us on diverting it,” Boswell said.