school meals

One source told The Grocer its school customers had been simplifying menus

Schools have been warned to prepare for food shortages ahead of the new school year and urged by wholesalers to “stock up”.

The warning comes as the HGV driver crisis intensifies, with food and drink shortages now being seen at some of the country’s biggest food chains, McDonald’s and Nando’s in the last two weeks.

The new school term will see additional demand put on suppliers and wholesalers, many of which have been struggling to distribute food and drink.

“Whilst we will take all measures to ensure that we deliver to customers, the same cannot be said for suppliers getting the product into our depots,” one wholesale CEO told The Grocer.

“What is more frustrating is the lack of communication from some suppliers, which exacerbates the situation.”

Another source said it had written to its education customers ahead of the new term explaining the difficulties currently facing the supply chain.

“Schools will have to accept there will be shortages. We are ordering as far in advance as 15 days and are then told by the supplier the day before delivery is due that a truncker will be nine pallets short. We then have another 15-day lead time on a re-order,” he said.

The Federation of Wholesale Distributors said its members had been encouraging schools to “stock up early where possible”, warning that September will be “an incredibly challenging month” as schools and workplaces re-open.

The trade body added that as its members prioritise school fulfilment it is likely to spark further disruption to food and drink supplies for local shops, pubs and independent restaurants.

FWD is continuing to call on the government to look again at introducing a temporary visa scheme to allow HGV drivers from the EU to fill vacancies and relieve the pressure.