Supply chain shortages are growing increasingly visible to consumers around the world, as prices rise, and some items disappear from menus altogether. Now, in the United Kingdom, McDonald’s has temporarily discontinued its milkshakes, as well as a number of other beverages, from its nearly 1,300 restaurants in the area.
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“Like most retailers, we are currently experiencing some supply chain issues, impacting the availability of a small number of products,” said a company spokesperson on Tuesday (Aug. 24). “Bottled drinks and milkshakes are temporarily unavailable in restaurants across England, Scotland and Wales.”
While many areas are seeing ingredient costs rise and labor availability fall, the issue is especially pronounced in the United Kingdom, with the truck driver shortage exacerbated by Brexit red tape, reports AP. The issues are affecting restaurants large and small, to consumers’ displeasure.
Last week, Nando’s shut down 45 of its restaurants in the region, following chicken shortages.
“Hey, The UK supply chain is having a bit of a ‘mare right now,” the company tweeted, in response to a tweet from a consumer calling out the out-of-stocks. “This is having a knock-on effect with some of our restaurants across England, Scotland and Wales. We hope to be back up and running again soon.”
Hey, The UK supply chain is having a bit of a ‘mare right now. This is having a knock-on effect with some of our restaurants across England, Scotland and Wales. We hope to be back up and running again soon
— Nando’s (@NandosUK) August 18, 2021
Nando’s was not the only chicken chain breaking the bad news via Twitter. Earlier this month, KFC UK tweeted a “heads up” that supply chain issues could affect the avail ability of certain items.
“Across our country, there’s been some disruption over the last few weeks — so things may be a little different when you next visit us,” read the statement. “You might find that some items aren’t available or our packaging might look a little different to normal. We know it’s not ideal, gut we’re working hard to keep things running smoothly.”
The Colonel has just emerged from a long day at the fryers and wanted to share the following message. pic.twitter.com/XuHtQNWe8M
— KFC UK (@KFC_UKI) August 11, 2021
Similarly, in late July, Taco Bell UK faced shortages of proteins, toppings, tortillas, and beverages.
On top of the existing labor shortages, many of the country’s truck drivers are on strike, demanding better pay. The strike is threatening pubs’ beer supply for the country’s upcoming Summer Bank Holiday on Aug. 30. Beers have gone out of stock, and pubs have closed, to the disappointment of some bargoers and the aggravation of others—there have been reports of berating bartenders. Local brewers are seeking to turn the shortages of mainstream brands into an opportunity.
“Amid fears of taps running dry, pubs, bars and restaurants should look beyond mass-produced beers from the Globals and speak to their local independent breweries,” James Calder, chief executive of the Society of Independent Brewers, said in a statement. “Being local they have the flexibility to brew and get beer directly into venues up and down the UK.”
Part of the labor shortage also comes down to what the country has termed the “pingdemic,” a term resulting from the National Health Service app, which can ping people when they have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for the virus. This alert system has prompted many to quarantine themselves, further decreasing the labor pool.
In fact, the BBC reported in late July that around one in five hospitality workers were self-quarantining, and some bar workers are even being told to delete the app, to the concern of some workers, who feel that the dangers of the virus are not being taken seriously.
“The worst case scenario is I’m positive, I go into work and spread it to staff and customers and that effectively puts people’s lives at risk,” one bartender told the outlet, “and that’s something I’m not comfortable doing.”