If you were planning to treat yourself to a McDonald’s milkshake any time soon, hold your horses.
The fast food chain has run out of milkshakes and bottled drinks in all its restaurants across the UK. The shortages come as a result of supply chain issues which have now left 1,250 stores without certain goods.
A McDonald’s spokesperson has said: “We are working hard to return these items to the menu as soon as possible. Like most retailers, we are currently experiencing some supply chain issues, impacting the availability of a small number of products. Bottled drinks and milkshakes are temporarily unavailable in restaurants across England, Scotland and Wales. We apologise for any inconvenience, and thank our customers for their continued patience.”
Recently, Nando’s has also seen similar shortages of its beloved chicken, forcing the temporary closure of some 50 of its restaurants.
These fast food outlets are not the first to struggle, nor will they be the last. So what’s causing all this disruption to fast food – and what other faves might we see running short next?
“There are lots of factors at play here,” Bryan Roberts, a retail analyst at Shopfloor Insights, tells HuffPost UK.
“The so-called pingdemic has impacted manpower across the board, from factories to distributing centres to stores and restaurants and that obviously isn’t helping the volume of product circulation to start with.
“The main problem is the truck driver shortage which is attributable to a whole host of issues, such as historically poor recruitment, Brexit and the pandemic. This is preventing some suppliers getting hold of raw materials, making timely deliveries to distributing centres and stores and restaurants, and also hampering retail and hospitality operators getting product from their distributing centres to their own outlets.”
These supplier problems have led to issues such as failed milk deliveries at Tesco, chicken shortages at Nando’s and M&S not receiving bakery items, Roberts says.
“The most obvious impact on the retail side is the ongoing out of stock items in supermarket bottled water as the retailers prioritise perishable products on fewer deliveries,” Roberts adds.
Workers no longer need to self-isolate if they’ve been double vaccinated, but you do need to isolate if you test positive. With Covid cases on the rise in some parts of the UK, we may see more shortages yet.
So, what food and drink might be impacted next? “It’s really hard to say,” says Roberts. “Some produce could be under pressure due to a shortage of pickers and it’s already been noted that toys might be in short supply in the run-up to Christmas. The obvious pressure points are products that can’t be made by machines like chicken and sandwiches.”
Sandwiches, you say? Just don’t tell the Joey Tribbiani in your life.
To tackle the issue, the government will need to step in. Lobby groups for the retail and transport industry are currently urging the business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, to rapidly increase the number of HGV driving tests taking place, provide temporary visas for EU drivers, and to make changes on how HGV driver training can be funded.
A government spokesperson said to the BBC on Friday: “The British people repeatedly voted to end free movement and take back control of our immigration system and employers should invest in our domestic workforce instead of relying on labour from abroad.
“We recently announced a package of measures to help tackle the HGV driver shortage, including plans to streamline the process for new drivers to gain their HGV licence and to increase the number of tests able to be conducted.
“We have also temporarily relaxed drivers’ hours rules to allow HGV drivers to make slightly longer journeys, but these must only be used where necessary and must not compromise driver safety.”