Hardys owner warns of wine shortages by Christmas

The UK’s largest wine firm has claimed that supply could drop and prices could rise at Christmas thanks to a shortage of lorry drivers.

Accolade, which makes Hardys and Echo Falls, said its suppliers were being hit by a shortfall of distribution and delivery staff.

It comes after the British Retail Consortium warned that supply chain disruption meant food price hikes were “likely” around the festive season.

“These shortages, if they continue, could definitely impact Christmas,” Accolade chief executive Robert Foye told the BBC.

READ MORE: Accolade Wines acquires Lambrini

“We are trying to get ahead of it, but it does depend on the situation for the entire transport and trucking industry in the UK.”

He added that even though the company was working “closely” with its suppliers, “ultimately costs will go up”.

The Road Haulage Association estimates the UK has a shortfall of about 100,000 hauliers.

ADM chief economist Marc Ostwald claimed Western Europe and the US were facing a similar crisis.

“Christmas supply delivery problems are highly probable, above all due to the extensive lockdowns over the past two months in China and much of eastern Asia,” he said.

“All the anecdotal evidence suggests that the large pay rises and even signing-on bonuses have done little to alleviate the problem.”

Although multiple supermarkets have offered four-figure bonuses to recruit new drivers, experts believe this shifts supply issues to other sections of the economy.

Foye also claimed that business would take time to return to pre-Covid levels, despite the final lockdown restrictions being lifted in July.

“In the UK you’re 100 per cent opened up, but because of the effect of Covid, because people’s habits have changed… you’re really only at 65 per cent of the level of 2019,” he said.

“We think it’s going to take two years to get back to 90-95 per cent level in the UK.

“Jump over to US, they’re opening extremely fast and are at the 90 per cent level.”

Accolade’s £100 million bottling facility in Bristol is the largest in Europe, and can distribute over 180 million litres of wine annually.

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