Nando’s has been forced to close dozens of restaurants in the United Kingdom due to shortages of the chain’s signature peri peri chicken.
Some 45 outlets were shuttered across England, Scotland and Wales, a spokesperson for Nando’s told CNN Business on Wednesday. The company has dispatched some of its employees to suppliers in order to get chicken shipments moving once again, the spokesperson added.
Nando’s is the latest in a series of UK companies to see its supply chain strained by a shortage of workers. The spokesperson said the primary bottleneck was at UK chicken distributors, which have warned in recent weeks that Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic have created a “perfect storm” that’s limiting production.
“The UK food industry has been experiencing disruption across its supply chain in recent weeks due to staff shortages and a number of our restaurants have been impacted,” Nando’s said in a statement.
Many UK food producers and restaurants have struggled to recruit workers during the coronavirus pandemic, heaping stress on supply chains that were already strained by Britain’s departure from the European Union. In recent months, worker shortages were exacerbated by UK rules that require people to isolate if they come into contact with someone who has been infected with the coronavirus.
New rules came into effect Monday that mean that fully vaccinated people in England are no longer legally required to isolate if they come into close contact with a positive COVID-19 case.
But other factors mean the problem hasn’t gone away entirely.
A shortage of truck drivers has also contributed to supply disruption in Britain. The Road Haulage Association says the United Kingdom is short around 100,000 truck drivers, 20,000 of whom are EU nationals that left the country after Brexit.
James Hook, who runs farms that supply one third of the chickens sold in the United Kingdom, told CNN Business in June that his company was short about 40 farm workers, double the usual number of vacancies. A lack of truck drivers and a shortage of workers at processing plants was making life even harder for his business.
Ranjit Singh Boparan, founder of 2 Sisters Food Group, said last month that his company has experienced a 15% labor shortage across its workforce of 16,000 due to a “perfect storm” of Brexit, the pandemic and government inaction in the face of a crisis.
“The operating environment has deteriorated so profoundly I can see no other outcome than major food shortages in the UK. Supply of chicken and turkey is under threat,” Boparan said in a statement.
The British Poultry Council said in early August that worker shortages are widespread, with farming and processing businesses reporting an average job vacancy rate of 16%. Weekly chicken production has been slashed by up to 10%.
“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,” Nando’s told its followers Wednesday on Twitter.
In July, a surge in the number of coronavirus cases caused temporary shortages of food and gasoline. Some of the biggest UK supermarkets were not able to stock some products and gas station operators acknowledged that some of their pumps had run dry.