Marks & Spencer: M&S warns of food shortages due to ‘pingdemic’

In recent weeks, British supermarkets have spoken of food shortages due to EU workers returning home because of the pandemic, among other reasons. Now, another issue contributing to the food shortage crisis is the “pingdemic”. More and more people are being pinged by the NHS Track and Trace app and are consequently made to self-isolate.

Tesco told ministers last month that it had been forced to get rid of 48 tonnes of food each week due to a driver shortage.

The “pingdemic” is to blame for the lack of staff at ports too, which could lead to gaps in supermarket shelves.

Tim Morris, Chief Executive of the UK Major Ports Group, said the “pingdemic” is the most “significant threat to ports’ resilience we have seen yet”.

Mr Morris told the Daily Telegraph: “If the current trajectory of absences continues without the Government taking any action, there has to be a risk of disruption to important supply chains, including food.”

Nick Allen, of the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA), said: “The app very clearly says you should self-isolate but the advice we’ve now been given is when our staff get pinged, the first thing to do is get them tested.

“Officials pointed out to us that the pinging by the app is advisory.”

However, in response to the BMPA’s comments, a Government spokesperson said “this is not accurate”.

They added: “We are in close contact with businesses, including the food industry, on this matter.

“Isolation is a crucial tool in helping to reduce the spread of the virus and it is vital that people continue to self-isolate when contacted by NHS Test and Trace.”

Last month, leaders in the food and supply chain industries warned that a shortage of drivers in Britain had reached “crisis point”.

Supermarkets had started to miss deliveries and had sold out on limited stock.

At the time, Richard Burnett, CEO of the Road Haulage Association (RHA) said shops were “weeks” away from empty shelves.

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