Britain faces a shortage of milk in supermarkets as Covid and Brexit fuel a lack of lorry drivers that could cause "summer of disruption", a dairy industry boss has warned.
Ash Amirahmadi, managing director of Arla UK, which delivers milk to 2,400 shops every day, is struggling to deliver to one in 10 shops, with 600 going without on Saturday.
He listed as causes the visa changes after Brexit that are keeping European drivers away and slow Covid testing with 30,000 waiting for their test so they can get to work.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think when you are not able to supply 10 per cent of the stores which are expecting to get milk every day, I think that’s quite worrying for a customer walking into a store and not being able to have milk – so we are taking it very seriously.
“We are trying to avoid a summer of disruption."
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He continued: “We are experiencing the problem getting worse and that’s why our assessment is that we are in a driver shortage crisis, and therefore we are asking for the industry and government to work together to recognise we are in a crisis and address the issue.”
The Road Haulage Association has said the driver shortage could be as high as 100,000, according to the Independent.
The industry is taking steps to attract more drivers.
Tesco, the UK's largest grocer, is offering a £1,000 "joining bonus" for new drivers who sign up before September to plug staffing gaps.
Arla has said its third-party hauliers have raised wages and offer their own signing-up bonus of £2,000.
However, Mr Amirahmadi called on the government to provide a “structural solution” to address the causes.
He said this should include better Covid testing and temporary visa changes to help address the shortage of drivers.
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Mr Amirahmadi said: “Going into the summer with lots more holidays coming up there is a short-term crisis, [and] we need to make sure we don’t have food shortages in the summer.
“There is a backlog of tests for HGV drivers – we predict about 30,000 drivers are waiting to be tested. We want government to work with us to accelerate that.
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"And secondly, we believe that driving should be recognised as a skill shortage, and therefore they should open up temporary visas for the industry to be able to bring European drivers back into the country.”
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said easing the rules on drivers' qualifications are part of a consultation to address the problem, along with extending drivers' working day from nine to ten hours.
However, the Road Haulage Association said the relaxation was a “sticking plaster”.