Boris Johnson has admitted that gaps on supermarket shelves could last months, prompting fears of Christmas food shortages.
Britain is grappling with an estimated shortfall of 90,000 hauliers, with critics arguing government plans to train more drivers will take at least a year to plug the gap.
So far, ministers have ignored industry calls for a HGV driver visa.
Talking to The Mirror on a flight to New York, Johnson claimed “market forces” would “take a while” to sort out supply chain disruption.
“We’re experiencing bottlenecks in all kinds of things as the world wakes up from Covid,” he said.
“It’s like everybody going back to put the kettle on at the end of a TV programme, you’re seeing huge stresses on the world supply systems.
Johnson compared the global economy’s revival to “the guy rope pinging off Gulliver”, adding “it’s going to take a while… for the circulation to adjust”.
Asked whether the shortages could take months, he said: “It could be faster than that, it could be much faster than that.
“But there are problems as you know with shipping, with containers, with staff – there are all sorts of problems.
“I think market forces will be very very swift in sorting it out.”
The PM stressed these were global problems, echoing the government’s attempts to distance food shortages from the Brexit vote.
Last week, transport secretary Grant Shapps denied that leaving the EU was responsible for Britain’s haulier crisis, arguing that Poland’s situation was even worse.
Mainland Europe is thought to need around 400,000 extra HGV drivers.
Levelling Up minister Michael Gove was recently appointed to head a taskforce to prevent food running low in the run-up to Christmas.