More than a quarter of food and hospitality firms have been hit by low stock levels in recent weeks as Britain's mounting supply chain crisis takes its toll and stores struggle to replenish shelves with essential goods.
The Office for National Statistics has revealed that its recent business survey found 27 per cent of food services and accommodation firms have reported lower than normal stock levels - the worst-hit of all the sectors.
It is 'criminal' that drivers are not eligible for these visas, yet they are available to visiting ballerinas and concert pianists.
It comes amid a mounting supply chain crisis, which is increasingly leaving supermarket shelves bare and leading to a shortage of materials and higher prices across a raft of sectors, from housebuilding to car production.
Greggs said this week it has been unable to restock products in some stores, joining McDonald's, Nando's, KFC, Beefeater and Subway in warning customers about shortages of key ingredients and products.
The escalating delivery driver shortage is now even threatening Christmas, with bosses at Iceland and the Co-op revealing this week that cancelled deliveries are causing the worst gaps on shelves they have ever seen.
The ONS's survey also showed the rising impact of the lorry driver shortage on the haulage sector, with the transportation and storage industry seeing nearly a fifth of firms – 18 per cent - having paused or stopped trading in mid-August.
This was largely driven by the freight transport by road industry and the unlicensed carriers industry, the ONS said.
Meanwhile, the chairman of Tesco has warned of some festive product shortages at Christmas, which could include gammons and pigs in blankets.
Deliveries of bread, milk and fresh produce to supermarkets and convenience stores have been disrupted, while supplies of canned and bottled drinks are rationed in some areas.
Haulage and retail industry leaders say the UK has a shortage of 90,000 to 100,000 drivers and they are calling on the Government to take urgent action amid fears that crucial Christmas deliveries will be disrupted.
They argue that HGV drivers should be added to a list of essential and skilled workers so people from the EU can be given visas and allowed into the country to keep food on plates.
The managing director of Iceland, Richard Walker, said it is 'criminal' that drivers are not eligible for these visas, yet they are available to visiting ballerinas and concert pianists.
He warned the delivery disruption is 'impacting the food supply chain on a daily basis'.
He said: 'Things like bread and other fast moving lines are being cancelled in about 100 stores per day, soft drinks are 50 per cent less in terms of volume. So it is having an effect at shelf.' Mr Walker admitted that some stores are selling out of bread and then struggling to replenish the shelves.
'We have a lot of goods to transport between now and Christmas and a strong supply chain is vital for everyone,' he said. 'The reason for sounding the alarm now is that we have already had one Christmas cancelled at the last minute, and I would hate this one to be problematic as well.'