Now BEER runs out: Pubs and breweries run dry as shortage of lorry drivers and ‘pingdemic’ exasperates supply chain – ahead of HGV strike set to cause MORE chaos
- Campaigners warned bars owned by the larger chains were the worst affected
- They are pleading with bosses to buy from suppliers in their surrounding areas
- The shortage has forced watering holes in UK to turn their pumps and taps off
- But in a further blow pubs could dry up completely as drivers plan go on strike
Pubs are running dry as breweries struggle to supply them with beer due to a shortage of lorry drivers and the ‘pingdemic’.
Campaigners warned bars owned by the larger chains are the worst affected due to them being tied to certain brands.
They are pleading with bosses to buy from suppliers in their surrounding area to boost the local economy and keep their businesses afloat.
The shortage has forced watering holes across the UK to turn numerous pumps and taps off and face the wrath of parched customers.
But in a further blow for punters, pubs could be set to dry up completely as drivers prepare to go on strike.
Draymen linked to the Unite union voted in favour of industrial action over their pay this summer.
Meanwhile a trade body warned some bars in Scotland are already nearly dry due to supply issues north of the border.
The Scottish Licensed Trade Association revealed last night that deliveries had been reduced or stopped since last week.
The Fox and Hounds Pub in Clavering, Essex, said on Facebook yesterday it was struggling with the shortage and it had left customers rowdy
Regional Representatives Coordinator for The Campaign for Pubs Alastair Kerr said a mixed of driver and CO2 shortage as well as ‘a bit of pingdemic’ was hitting pubs.
He told MailOnline: ‘The beer shortage that some pubs are facing in the UK at the moment is obviously a serious issue for the struggling publicans who after the past year are only just getting back to normality.
‘This beer shortage is mainly affecting pubs that are owned by the big Pub Companies, which we hope that they will do everything in their power to help their tenants source alternative products, ideally from local breweries to keep their pubs going and open for business.
‘The Campaign for Pubs is urging pubs, if possible to support their local breweries that this country can boast a huge amount of.
‘The UK produces some of the finest real ale, lager & alcoholic products in the world and local producers need more support.
‘We know it’s affecting a few pubs, particularly in Scotland. The problem is pubs that are tied to a chain – if they don’t have any supply then neither do the pubs.’
He noted how when Heineken had a shortage of beer earlier this year it affected affiliated pubs in Britain.
He added: ‘Now it’s a mixed of driver shortage, a shortage of CO2 and a bit of the pingdemic.’
Campaigners warned bars owned by the larger chains are the worst affected due to them being tied to certain brands (file photo)
Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association Emma McClarkin pointed firmly at the shortage of lorry drivers for the issues.
Ms McClarkin said: ‘The HGV driver shortage is being felt by our sector like so many others.
‘Brewers and their logistics partners are working round the clock doing all they can to ensure deliveries.
‘We are grateful for Government engagement with this issue to date, however, more is needed as a matter of urgency to address the driver shortage in the immediate term.
‘Adding HGV drivers to the shortage occupation list would do much to help stabilise the current situation.’
The Fox and Hounds Pub in Clavering, Essex, said on Facebook yesterday it was struggling with the shortage and it had left customers rowdy.
It said: ‘As you may already be aware there is a well documented shortage of beer across the UK.
‘As a venue we have been badly effected by this, with inconsistent beer deliveries for the past 8 weeks and no deliveries for the past 10 days.
‘As a customer it is unlikely you would of noticed this due to our proactive management team hiring vehicles and completing 120 mile round trips acting as draymen to ensure the cellar is stocked, however unfortunately this Sunday we ran out of draft lager.
The Fox and Hounds Pub in Clavering, Essex, said on Facebook yesterday it was struggling with the shortage and it had left customers rowdy
‘This has in-turn led to a very small minority of customers swearing and shouting at our hard working bar staff.
‘This is not the behaviour we would expect from customers of a pub which is at the heart of the village community.
‘Our staff have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic in often very challenging situations and would therefore ask that you understand this is something that is beyond our control.
‘We understand this is only a very small minority and we thank the rest of our loyal and valuable customer base who have been understanding and patient throughout.’
The Rising Sun in Rochester, Kent, also admitted facing supply issues, writing: ‘I just want to make all customers aware that the next few weeks the pub industry has been hit with many issues behind the scenes.
‘We are currently having beer shortages on many of the items I sell, we have a barrel shortage, as well as the pingdemic affecting services throughout and now our delivery service are in an industrial dispute and about to strike which means many deliveries are affected and may not arrive on my normal date, if at all.
‘So please be patient and understand this is out of my control and I will do my best to insure I have a fully stocked cellar when possible.’
The Rising Sun in Rochester, Kent (pictured), also admitted facing supply issues, writing: ‘I just want to make all customers aware that the next few weeks the pub industry has been hit with many issues behind the scenes’
But a spokesman for Wetherspoon said he had seen no supply issues affecting their business.
The hospitality industry is braced for further problems in the coming weeks as delivery drivers prepare to go on strike.
Draymen linked to the Unite union voted in favour of industrial action over their pay this summer. Officials have warned it could mean pumps dry up.
The drivers, who transport drinks for brands such as Heineken, rejected a ‘paltry’ wage offer from GXO Logistics Drinks.
Union members convincingly backed a strike when they were told they could have a 1.4 per cent pay rise – when they want one closer to inflation rates.
GXO Logistics Drinks, which has 26 delivery sites across the UK, accounts for 40 per cent of all beer delivered in the country.
The firm said it is engaging in talks to try to avoid the industrial action after months of the business being shut down.
Workers plan to strike twice – at 10am on August 24 and the at the same time on September 2.
They have been told to refuse to work overtime and will ‘work to rule’ – meaning doing very little to impact on productivity – from August 24 to November 15.
Unite national officer for the drinks industry Joe Clarke said: ‘The threat of a late summer beer drought now increases for Britain’s thirsty beer drinkers as our members make 40 per cent of the beer deliveries in the country.’
A spokesman for GXO Logistics Drinks said: ‘We favour dialogue in all our negotiations.
‘Discussions are ongoing in order to reach agreement, in particular for the hospitality sector that is only now emerging from the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown.’
Last night the government announced it will recruit an extra 40 additional vocational driving examiners to help reduce the lorry driver shortage.
Last night the government announced it will recruit an extra 40 additional vocational driving examiners to help reduce the lorry driver shortage (file photo)
The government wrote to the UK haulage industry on 20 July 2021 outlining a package of measures to help address the lorry driver shortage.
It acknowledged that increasing the availability of vocational driving tests is key to this issue.
DVSA continues to develop measures to maximise testing capacity, including consulting on plans to streamline the process for drivers to gain their heavy goods vehicle (HGV) licence. The additional examiners will enable DVSA to offer more lorry driving test appointments.
It has already increased the number of vocational driving tests from 2,000 a week pre-pandemic to 3,000 by overtime and allocating additional employees into testing.
Cheers! Marston’s pub chain boss says drinkers are ‘back to 2019 levels’ in suburban bars – but London and city centre boozers remain ‘weak’ due to staff continuing to WFH
The boss of Marston’s pub chain revealed today that trading is back to 2019 levels with suburban bars performing best – but city centre venues still lagging behind.
The firm, which runs around 1,500 pubs across Britain, added that sales in London were still ‘very weak’ because so many people are still working from home.
And chief executive Ralph Findlay praised the ‘very sensible’ change in self-isolation rules from today which means people who have both Covid-19 jabs will no longer have to isolate if they come into contact with someone who has tested positive.
Around 70 per cent of Marston’s sites reopened in April under outdoor trading restrictions before its entire estate was able to welcome customers again in May.
Mr Findlay added that there was ‘a good cause for optimism in the future’ for the firm which has also been boosted by warmer weather and the Euro 2020 tournament.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I think trade has been pretty good actually – and I think somewhat better than I thought it would be having opened back in April outside and then in May with restrictions and then all the restrictions lifted in July.
‘And we are roughly back to where we were in 2019 which is pretty encouraging. And I think though it does depend on where you are in the sector.
‘City centres are still very weak, as people have not yet gone back to work in them, and London is still very weak, so there is that caveat. But I think overall, if you’re in the suburbs, if you’re where people live, it is pretty reasonable.’
Talking about whether people are now congregating at bars, he said: ‘It is a mix and it depends on what sort of pub you’re in. It is a fact that pubs are about socialisation, they’re about celebration, and they are about going to the bar.
‘And what we’ve seen is a real mix of behaviours, I guess, from our guests in pubs. We haven’t insisted that table service remains, although it is still there.’
DVSA Chief Executive Loveday Ryder said: ‘We recognise the haulage industry keeps the wheels of our economy turning and have listened to its concerns about the current lorry driver shortage.
‘We have responded by doing all we can to support the industry in tackling this issue through increasing lorry driver testing.
‘This includes our latest campaign to recruit more vocational examiners so we can maximise our lorry testing capacity.’
Roads Minister Baroness Vere said: ‘Our HGV drivers provide a vital service delivering food, medicine and other vital goods to where they’re needed.
‘That’s why we’re committed to working with industry to address the shortage of drivers and have unveiled a package of robust measures.
‘Increasing the DVSA’s testing capacity is a crucial part of this plan, and I’d encourage anyone with the right experience to apply for a role – helping keep our country moving.’
Meanwhile Scotland’s pubs are just days away from running out of beer due to problems with suppliers.
Hospitality venues and industry leaders voiced concern as suppliers struggle to meet demands.
Belhaven and Heineken cut back or cancelled deliveries, causing chaos in pubs, with grave concerns that distribution issues could cause some outlets to go bankrupt.
A spokesman for Greene King, which owns pubs across Scotland, said: ‘The issue of labour shortages is widespread and having an impact on the whole industry. We are working closely with our distribution partners to find a resolution.’
Without being able to keep up with demand from punters, and struggling to find alternative solutions, some publicans now fear the crisis could lead to closures.
Many in the industry are still struggling to recover from 18 months of lockdown restrictions.
Colin Wilkinson, managing director of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, said: ‘There definitely will be some pubs which are running out. Getting supplies has been an absolute nightmare.
‘This is the first weekend after the restrictions eased on August 9, and we were hoping for some sort of normality in our industry, but this is another hurdle on our road to recovery. One pub told me they were getting just one keg of Belhaven Best.’
Some brewers and suppliers said a lack of drivers and warehouse staff has left them struggling to fulfil deliveries.
Brewer Belhaven, which is based in Dunbar, East Lothian, said it has had issues getting the gas it needs to make its products.
Gavin Stevenson, owner of the Mor-Rioghain Group which owns Gellions and Monty’s in Inverness and the Mains of Scotstown in Aberdeen, had a major order cancelled.
He said: ‘I got a call from Heineken on Thursday at 4pm saying there would be zero deliveries on Friday, and they weren’t able to reschedule.
‘That’s just one brewer, but the supply chains across Scotland are absolutely crumbling. It will mean that there are products out of stock this weekend.’
He said staff travelled more than 100 miles in vans to pick up stock for his pubs, but others might not be so lucky.
Mr Stevenson added: ‘These are businesses which are on the brink and have been shut for most of the summer season.
‘I’m aware of dozens of sites which are not getting their deliveries, but there are hundreds more who are getting short deliveries.
‘This problem is at an absolutely critical time for the hospitality industry as we’ve been heavily restricted operationally for 18 months.
‘The first two weeks back that we actually have a chance of breaking even or making a profit or repaying some of the debt we’ve incurred, the brewery are not doing what they need to do to ensure the survival of the sector. It’s frankly disgraceful.
‘A pub without beer is like a petrol station without petrol.
‘There are businesses which will go bankrupt this week and next because of this distribution chaos.’
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