It will probably be a cup of bitterness that will fill British hearts. While in the UK they can cope with the lack of Christmas toys or fabric softener, vinegar chips cannot be missing. Unfortunately, the next deliveries will not arrive until the end of the month, and this time neither COVID-19 nor Brexit is to blame.
All because of the IT department, and more precisely the computer update that disrupted the work of the largest chips factory in the world. In this way, production almost stopped, which releases up to 5 million packages of delicacies daily. Walkers has been forced to prioritize the production of individual crisp flavors. Of course, the podium was taken by: vinegar, cheese and salted. More niche for British palates, such as paprika, will have to wait.
What happened? “A recent IT system update has disrupted the supply of some of our products. The plants are still working to produce crisps and other snacks, but on a smaller scale,” Walkers said in a statement. “We are doing everything we can to increase production and bring our favorite products back to store shelves. We are sorry for the inconvenience,” adds the company.
However, these are not the only food problems faced by British stomachs. And although this time technology was to blame, it is impossible not to notice that most of the problems are caused by the overlapping of the process of leaving the European Union with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tesco and other supermarkets are turning into “art galleries”, covering empty shelves with cutouts of fruit, vegetables or cleaning products. Shoppers noticed carrot origami in Fakenham, cardboard asparagus in London, or photos of oranges and grapes in Milton Keynes, while in Cambridge you could see two-dimensional fabric softeners.
In August, McDonald’s stopped selling milkshakes. Due to disruptions in the supply chain, fast food has run out of basic products. Nando’s bars were closed due to a shortage of poultry, and KFC significantly shortened its menu.
Some food industries are suffering not only from the collapse of the supply chain caused by the coronavirus, but also from a shortage of seasonal workers who, in turn, have been scared off by both Brexit and the pandemic. Recently, UK farms have been forced to slaughter thousands of healthy pigs on their own. Since this was not done in slaughterhouses, the meat could not be sold. Again, the reason was too few people to work in meat processing plants. The solution is to send livestock to the EU, but due to the financial outlays and a lot of bureaucracy, the largest farms can afford it.
When it comes to seasonal workers, it is difficult for those who wish to hire themselves to find employment. A significant part is also in demand in the EU, so they prefer to work in France or Germany than go “behind the channel”.
In addition to the food industry, companies warn of future product shortages. Their range is quite wide from artificial tan to toys. If they can be shipped despite power cuts in China, they will struggle with traffic jams in ports, where they can get stuck for several weeks due to the lack of truck drivers who could pick up full containers.
Supply shortages reached their worst level since the 1970s, according to the Confederation of British Industry, the largest group of lobbyists.
Walkers chips and other snacks
The owner of the Walkers is the American company PepsiCo.
Financial results showed a profit “on chips” of £ 38m (revenues of £ 265m). Profit was impacted by higher health and safety costs due to the pandemic.