Major UK vegetable producer forced to deliver less food to shops due to HGV and supply chain crisis

One of the country’s biggest vegetable producers has said it is delivering less food to supermarkets and major distributors in order to prevent it going to waste amid supply chain issues.

Alfred G Pearce, based in Norfolk, overhauled the way it produces fresh food after losing several thousand pounds of stock within a couple of weeks as vegetables were left to rot at depots due to a lack of staff and delivery drivers at the beginning of the pandemic.

Simon Pearce, the firm’s director, explained: “The situation remains difficult but is certainly better now the Government, customers and consumers have taken onboard the realities.”

In order to deal with the situation, it is now selling fewer “complex products” that require more work to produce. This includes products like juices, smoothies and purees.

The firm – which is based across three sites and grows 60,000 tonnes of vegetables a year – has also reduced its hours by around a day and a half, in response to shortages.

“[It] does have a financial impact,” Mr Pearce said. “However, we can then rotate our workforce on less days resulting in less people being required overall in the week.”

Shortages of seasonal workers in the agricultural sector, leading to a huge labour shortfall, have been pinned on Brexit.

A shortfall of more than 100,000 lorry drivers in the UK has also been blamed on the UK’s departure from the European Union as well as Covid measures and poor pay and working conditions – which have seen huge swathes of the workforce leaving.

As a result, industries reliant on physical deliveries have experienced shortages of key products, with everything from food on the shelves and petrol deliveries to Christmas toys taking a hit.

The issue – while a crisis on home soil – is not just being felt in the UK. The pandemic has interrupted the global supply chain.<