Rrestaurants and gastropubs in London and the rest of the UK have been warned of potential shortages of key menu items alongside a spike in inflation this autumn.
Buying specialist Lynx Purchasing said hospitality businesses would face “significant and widespread” challenges with higher prices and food shortages for the rest of the year, including supply issues with meat, poultry and seafood.
In its summer market update, the specialist said the Government must address the challenges of employing overseas workers and that the international rollout of Covid vaccines was key to minimising supply issues.
In recent weeks, many restaurants and bars have been forced to close or slash opening hours when staff have been instructed to isolate by the NHS Covid app.
“The ‘perfect storm’ is about to break. The Bank of England is forecasting that inflation will hit 3 per cent this autumn, other economists suggest 4 per cent, and for some key food and drink sectors it’s likely to be higher still,” Lynx Purchasing managing director Rachel Dobson said.
She added: “The labour shortage, the impact of Brexit on imports, higher distribution and fuel costs, and the continuing impact of the Covid pandemic globally are all factors.
“The effect of inflation not only on costs, but also potentially on consumer confidence, coming as operators are working to rebuild after lockdown, is as serious as any challenge the sector has faced in recent years.”
“The same labour shortages hospitality is seeing on the front line stretch back through the supply chain via warehousing and distribution to picking and packing.”
Businesses were advised to buy UK produce in season wherever possible but Dobson added: “From pepper to pinot noir, every menu relies to an extent on global products.”