Future food shortages at supermarkets are being described as 'inevitable' by experts in the industry.

Staff shortages across low-paying sectors including harvesting, manufacturing, and in particular a chronic lack of drivers, means less food on the shelves, it is being claimed.

The real crisis for food supplies starts now,” said Shane Brennan, CEO of the Cold Chain Federation when speaking to the Guardian.

He said that while he was typically wary of empty shelf warnings, “this time definitely feels different”.

The start of lockdown saw many stores and supermarkets struggling to fill shelves as a combination of stockpiling and more people staying at home unbalanced the finely-tuned logistics big businesses rely on.

And a combination of factors mean we may not have seen the end of this, with the supply of chilled foods a particular concern.

Trade website The Grocer has reported that trade bodies, logistics firms and suppliers all warn that the end of lockdown, combined with the summer holidays could see a tipping point reached.

The driver shortage is believed to be caused by numerous factors, including European workers returning home due to Brexit and Covid, a lack of workers with Visas and the ending of the furlough scheme.

Combined with a shortage in staff for the meat industry and the fruit packaging industry as well as pubs and restaurants starting to reopen, many are concerned about the future.

“Everywhere you look in a supply chain there are problems,” said Brennan. “Food already isn’t being replenished into supermarkets quick enough and it’s not just because of logistics but a lack of production.”

Speaking to The Grocer, Mark Crawford, a director at fruit supplier Blue Skies, said the lack of staff had resulted in one of the hardest weeks he has had in the industry.

“Our food industry is in a full-blown crisis. We need the workers to help produce, pack and distribute,” he said.