Major dairy supplier to supermarkets Arla has been hit by the national HGV driver shortage, resulting in some delivery shortfalls.
UK managing director Ash Amirahmadi told the BBC the firm had been experiencing driver shortages since early April and is currently unable to deliver milk to around 10% of stores each day.
Amirahmadi said that the company was in “a driver shortage crisis” and is therefore asking for the supply chain industry and the government to work together to address the issue.
The managing director explained that the government could intervene by accelerating the programme of driving tests for new HGV drivers, as well as by issuing temporary visas for the road haulage industry, so that more European drivers could be allowed into the country.
He added that the problem was a structural issue that “needed a structural solution.”
The Road Haulage Association (RHA) believes there is currently a shortfall of about 100,000 lorry drivers, up 30,000 from estimates at the end of last month. The RHA, at the time, suggested a 12-point plan for the sector that includes a seasonal visa scheme for qualified HGV drivers, priority driving tests and improvements to the road network.
“Progress is already being made”
A government spokesperson told the BBC: “We’re working with industry and have already taken action on HGV driver shortages, including ramping up vocational test capacity, and funding apprenticeships.”
They added: “We have also announced a temporary relaxation of drivers’ hours rules. This will allow HGV drivers to make slightly longer journeys, but must only be used where necessary and must not compromise driver safety, with further measures to be announced shortly.
“Most of the solutions, however, are likely to be driven by industry, with progress already being made in testing and hiring, and a big push towards improving pay, working conditions and diversity.”