The Daily Telegraph - Business

Strawberry shortage hits Sainsbury’s

- By Laura Onita

SAINSBURY’S is battling a shortage of some fresh produce such as strawberri­es and salad as Ocado revealed a lack of delivery drivers has forced it to lend staff to some suppliers.

Sainsbury’s said it has faced supply issues for certain products due to a combinatio­n of factors including driver shortages, a lack of shipping containers and higher-than expected demand from customers. An increase in staff absences had also contribute­d to some gaps on shelves, the supermarke­t said.

It is the latest evidence of the impact that a nationwide shortage of qualified drivers is having on businesses.

Separately yesterday, Ocado said it has been lending staff to its suppliers, which have been hit by the labour crisis. Tim Steiner, chief executive, said: “Some of our suppliers are affected by the shortage and we’re helping them with some of our own team to make sure disruption is minimal.”

Meanwhile, Tesco said its suppliers will be hit with additional transport costs in the wake of the driver shortage. Tesco told ministers last month that its suppliers were wasting nearly 50 tons of food a week – enough to load

two trucks. A drop in migrant labour due to lockdown rules and Brexit has led to around 100,000 vacancies in the haulage sector, which is affecting food deliveries and waste collection services.

Sainsbury’s said like-for-like sales, excluding fuel, rose 1.6pc in the four months to June 26 compared with a year earlier, when consumers were stockpilin­g at the height of the pandemic. Grocery sales grew 0.8pc, while online sales soared 29pc as households continued to opt for home delivery.

It added that demand for beer and soft drinks, fuelled by the Euro 2020 football tournament, had been higher than expected. The grocer now expects annual profits of £660m – £40m more than previously forecast.

Unveiling its half-year results, Ocado said shopping patterns were normalisin­g but that the average basket size was still higher than before the pandemic.

It said sales jumped 20pc to £1.2bn during the 26 weeks to May 30 compared with a year earlier as it revealed a new deal to sell its robotic warehouse technology to Spanish grocer Alcampo.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom