HGV shortage: Now shoppers face higher food prices on top of soaring energy bills

11 October 2021, 12:26

The shortage of HGV drivers has seen Kraft Heinz hike prices
The shortage of HGV drivers has seen Kraft Heinz hike prices. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Shoppers face a hike in food prices just as soaring gas costs threaten to send energy bills skyrocketing.

Kraft Heinz boss Miguel Patricio has warned that some staple household foods would get more expensive because of the HGV driver shortage - and that people should get used to higher food costs.

He said the company is "raising prices, where necessary, around the world" for products including ketchup and baked beans.

The executive blamed a lack of lorry drivers in Britain, as well as increased logistic costs in the US and a labour shortage in parts of the economy there.

His comments show how the shortage in HGV drivers, which has been seen in several countries, has shaken the supply chain.

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The Government blames the worldwide easing of Covid restrictions, with Boris Johnson comparing the issue to when households would turn the kettle on and drain power at the end of a TV programme.

The lack of drivers has led to infuriated motorists panic buying petrol amid a lack of tanker drivers to take the fuel from the terminals and refineries to the pumps.

And in an increasingly perfect storm, Brits are also facing higher gas prices at home.

Surging costs have been blamed on a cold winter that depleted stocks, high demand for liquefied natural gas in Asia and reduced supply from Russia.

With people's wages potentially having to stretch further to pay for any hike in gas prices, higher mark-ups for basic foods and condiments will be unwelcome news.

Mr Patricio was asked by the BBC why Kraft Heinz was increasing the cost of its products. He said: "Specifically in the UK, with the lack of truck drivers.

"In (the) US, logistic costs also increased substantially, and there's a shortage of labour in certain areas of the economy."

He added that inflation is "across the board", unlike in previous years, but admitted companies need to "try to minimise these price increases".

Consumers will need to get used to paying for food because of the world's rising population and a lack of land to grow produce, he said.

The Government has tried to push a recruitment drive for thousands of HGV drivers, offering short term visas and training new recruits.