The supply chain is already being hit by the lack of HGV drivers in the UK, which has been causing delays with various product delivery to pubs from food to beer.
Brewers and drinks companies have been joining calls for the Government to take action over the issues surrounding the supply chain.
And the Government finally backed down to relax immigration restrictions to allow for more foreign workers to plug the labour gap. The industry had been calling for a 12-month Covid recovery visa to help ease the crisis.
The Government has revealed that up to 10,500 lorry drivers and poultry workers can receive temporary UK visas as it seems to limit disruption in the run-up to Christmas.
It also confirmed 5,000 fuel tanker and food lorry drivers would be eligible to work in the UK for three months, until Christmas Eve. The scheme is also being extended to 5,500 poultry workers.
This will be a relief to many in the pub sector as it had been feared that the sector could be facing a raft of chicken supply issues due to the impact of Brexit and shortages of labour.
But the panic buying is continuing for fuel with many petrol stations running dry and closing.
Cause for concern
“The apparent fuel shortage on top of other crises to hit the hospitality sector is cause for concern but we are closely monitoring the situation,” said Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the BBPA.
“Brewers and their suppliers continue to work around the clock to ensure there are no disruptions to the supply of beer. The steps the Government has taken to enable more short-term visas for HGV drivers will hopefully begin to stabilise the situation across UK supply chains.”
In response to the move to enable poultry workers to come to the UK, the National Farmers' Union (NFU) vice president Tom Bradshaw said it welcomed the move to add HGV drivers and poultry workers to existing visa schemes.
“The NFU has worked with the wider food and drink industry to help evidence the needs of the sector and we look forward to working with government on applying the scheme for poultry and, in particular, access for smaller producers,” he said.
“We will also continue to work with government to find solutions for the wider labour needs, including trained and able butchers for pork production to deal with the increasingly serious build-up of pigs on farm and the risk of welfare issues.”