The UK is apparently 100,000 lorry drivers down, due to the combined effects of post-Brexit/mid-pandemic foreign worker availability and, more accutely, the pingdemic. Which is why you may have noticed minor shortages in the shops, shelves taking a little longer to restock and doom-and-gloom headlines about KFC’s Twister Meals going off the menu. But now it’s gotten serious: Nando’s is shutting some of its stores.

The home of casual chicken dining, that’s a bit posher than Chicken Cottage but still cheap enough to be the first ‘proper’ restaurant you took your teenage date to issued a startling notice yesterday.

Supply chain issues have affected their operations and the result is that 50 Nando’s outlets have have to temporarily close, nearly 10% of their total UK shops. Which is a complete shocker to the Peri Peri specialists.

Apparently the problem is getting enough chickens in. The shortage of HGV drivers is compounded by staffing issues at suppliers’ factories not to mention Nando’s own staff issues, and it’s all down to pings.

And it's all down to pings...

The chicken giant has tried to counter the shortages by seconding 70 staff to its suppliers to “help get things moving again” in the hope that further closures can be staved off by filling some of the gaps itself.

A spokesperson told reporters “The UK food industry has been experiencing disruption across its supply chain in recent weeks due to staff shortages and Covid isolations, and a number of our restaurants have been impacted.”

The whole situation is being repeated across the hospitality industry. Even where a restaurant’s staff has managed to remain somehow COVID free, the knock-on effect of supply chain issues are making the entire endeavour difficult.

And while this may be a particular issue at the mass produced end, where mega-factories churn out zillions of chicken wings Peri Peri ready, and where staff shortages can suddenly disrupt huge swathes of the industry, the same is happening in a more micro way in London’s top-end restaurants too.

In a world where suppliers might be a single farmer or a family run producer the effects of isolating can be even more disruptive. And despite the government’s recent changes to the rules around isolation, the numbers of covid infections has hovered between 25k and 30k a day for the past couple weeks.

It’s hoped that the vaccination programme will finally sort much of this out, but big waves are still predicted for autumn as weather and schools start to push the numbers back up. And while hospitalisations and deaths are likely to remain relatively low, hospitality may be set to bear the brunt of another covid nightmare…

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