THIS was the scene in one Warrington convenience store this morning – a scene similar to many others across the town and country.

A Warrington Guardian reader visited the Co-op store on Knutsford Road in Latchford earlier today, Monday, but was unable to leave with much shopping due to empty shelves.

The sign informs customers that the store is having some availability issues which it hopes will be resolved quickly.

But this is a problem being faced by supermarkets across the country, with one trade body boss warning that ‘the days when shoppers could get anything from supermarkets is over’.

Ian Wright, chief executive of the Food and Drink Federation, says that a shortage of lorry drivers is in part due to them moving to online retailers and starting to deliver for Amazon and Tesco.

These jobs often have better hours and pay, he added.

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The farm to fork supply chain is missing around half a million of the four million people that usually work in the sector.

Many businesses have reported huge issues in their supply chains in recent months, leaving some shop shelves empty and forcing restaurants to remove items from their menus.

“It is going to get worse, and it is not going to get better after getting worse any time soon,” Mr Wright told listeners at an event organised by the Institute for Government.

He added: “The result of the labour shortages is that the just-in-time system that has sustained supermarkets, convenience stores and restaurants – so the food has arrived on shelf or in the kitchen, just when you need it – is no longer working.

“And I don’t think it will work again, I think we will see we are now in for permanent shortages. Now these shortages do not mean that you are going to run out of food.”

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He added: “What is changing now is that the UK shopper and consumer could have previously have expected just about every product they want to be on a shelf or in the restaurant all the time.

“That is over, and I do not think it is coming back.”

Downing Street rejected the idea that shortages will be ‘permanent’, and insisted the UK food supply chain is ‘highly resilient’.

“We do not recognise those claims,” a No. 10 spokesman said.

“We have got highly resilient food supply chains which have coped extremely well in the face of challenges. We believe that will remain the case.

“We know there are some issues that are facing the sector. We will continue to speak and liaise those involved in those industries to try to ensure we can help them as much as possible.”