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From coffee to microchips-how the supply chain crisis disrupted the UK plc | Supply chain crisis

The fast food chain is almost out of chicken. Porters’ wage bills are soaring. The crops rot in the fields. The scale of the British supply chain collapse was the worst since the 1970s, when a three-day week, power outages and labor disputes caused mountains to pile up on the streets.

Fast forward four years, the shortage of modern Britain stems from Covid-19 disrupting the intricate global supply chain network, and the slightest problem will trigger the entire system. Brexit It has exacerbated the anarchy that has restarted in the United Kingdom. Over the years, the long-term insufficient investment in personnel and infrastructure by the government and enterprises has been painfully exposed.

Experts say that the shortage of workers is at the core of the UK’s problems, causing the entire economy to bubble; from the shortage of McDonald’s milkshakes to the rationing of cement and gypsum board by builders. The global lack of microchips is hurting manufacturers and reducing car production, and as the planet gets out of the blockade, the surge in international demand has pushed up the prices of various raw materials.

Growth was dragged down by interruptions caused by shortages of workers and materials, and the British economy almost stagnated in July. Official data released on Friday showed that although the British government relaxed most epidemic restrictions on “Freedom Day” on July 19, GDP this month only increased by 0.1%.

In an example of multiple touchpoints in a supply crisis, the Guardian traced a humble cup of takeaway coffee from the source, revealing the effects of global warming, shortages of workers and materials, and soaring prices.

Coffee problem

Food production

The fruit rots on the farm, the slaughterhouse is working hard to process pigs and chickens, and the delivery of milk is delayed. Industry leaders say the problem stems from the lack of workers to select, process and transport goods, rather than insufficient food. Global food prices, including coffee, have soared. After the drought and soaring temperatures on farms in Canada, one of the largest wheat producing countries, pasta prices will rise, and Italy has supply problems.

Matt Knight, managing director of the Royal Dairy Farmers Association, said: “There is no shortage of milk or collection problems. However, due to the shortage of truck drivers, delivery to supermarkets has always been problematic.”

The key to the shortage of workers is the difficulty of Brexit after temporary workers leave the UK during the pandemic, which is further dragged down by the Coronavirus Delta variant and continued border restrictions.

The employment of EU workers is declining faster than the domestic labor force. Since the end of 2019, the number of workers in Romania and Bulgaria, in particular, has decreased by nearly 90,000, or 24%, who usually fill low-paid logistics and food production positions. The number of employees from eight Eastern European countries, including Poland and the Czech Republic, dropped by more than 100,000, or 12%.


Empty shelf in Durham Lidl. Photo: Tom Wilkinson/PA

Inventory level reached Lowest since 1983 The shortage of HGV drivers prevents goods from reaching supermarket shelves. Retailers have urged parents to buy Christmas gifts as soon as possible to avoid disappointment; this is more difficult for holiday foods, such as pigs and turkeys in blankets, which have a short shelf life and may make diners unhappy.

The surge in demand for online shopping during the lockdown has exacerbated this problem, and the lack of truck drivers in the UK has caused retailers such as Tesco and Ocado to offer up to £1,000 in bonuses to attract new employees. Warehouse jobs have similar benefits, including Amazon and pets at home.

The Road Transport Association estimates that the UK lacks about 100,000 drivers to keep goods flowing smoothly. It said that as immigrant drivers left the country during the crisis and training and licensing of new employees encountered difficulties, the shortage of employees before the pandemic became worse.

Iceland warned that it may cancel up to 40 deliveries to its stores every day. An industry expert said that an importer of Christmas lighting was forced to charter seven planes to bring goods from Asia to avoid delays in seaports and trucks.


Recruitment notice in the window of a restaurant in Windsor, Berkshire, UK.
Recruitment notice in the window of a restaurant in Windsor, Berkshire, UK. Photo: Maureen McLean/REX/Shutterstock

The chaos in the supply chain has left some Nando’s and KFC restaurants without chicken on their menus, McDonald’s milkshakes, and Wetherspoon’s toast and beer have run out.

After the blockade is lifted, the number of summer bar and restaurant bookings may surge, but due to the absence of the “epidemic” and shortage of personnel, many venues are completely missed.

Employers have been struggling to find chefs, kitchen porters and cleaners, and the company reports The worst labor shortage since 1997 Despite the gradual end of the vacation plan, there are still record vacancies.

Iain Hoskins, owner of Ma Boyle’s Alehouse & Eatery in Liverpool, said: “For many hospitality companies like me, we have spent a summer adapting to new operating methods during the epidemic. , And then coupled with the supply issues and staffing crises related to Brexit, we are really struggling.”


The shortage of microchips is affecting car production.
The shortage of microchips is affecting car production. Photo: Jonathan Nakstrand/AFP/Getty Images

The worst shortage of spare parts and raw materials since at least 1977 has come to the British manufacturing industry, hitting factory production and preventing its economy from recovering from the blockade.

The shortage of microchips has affected the production of the entire manufacturing industry, forcing automakers to reduce production and shorten the delivery time of a range of consumer products, from microwave ovens to smartphones. Drivers have to wait months for some new cars or accept models with lower specifications and gadgets. The decrease in new car sales has also pushed up the price of used cars.

The chip shortage comes as the Covid infection rate in Southeast Asia has increased and factories have been affected, and a fire in a factory in Japan has interrupted supply.

put up

Some builders reported that it was difficult to obtain supplies. For example, the price of timber has soared.
Some builders reported that it was difficult to obtain supplies. For example, timber prices have recently hit a record high. Photo: Maureen McLean/REX/Shutterstock

The UK’s pandemic housing price boom and the DIY revolution have sparked a fierce demand for building materials. But suppliers have been struggling to keep up, with manufacturers rationing materials from cement to gypsum board.

Earlier this summer, global timber prices soared to record highs, and then fell again in recent weeks, but costs remain high. Builders’ merchants have increased the prices of a range of commodities, from trolleys to plastic, medium-density fiberboard and steel.

Construction companies are struggling to recruit workers, hindered by the departure of EU migrant workers from the UK, forcing employers to increase starting salaries to hire more workers. Therefore, from housing construction to commercial and civil engineering, construction projects have slowed down.

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