empty shelves

Wine is at the heart of Christmas - whether you plan on sipping wine by the fireplace, enjoying some mulled wine from a flask on a wintery walk, or simply enjoying a tipple of your favourite Champagne or Prosecco on Christmas day.

But there have been countless posts, articles, and news reports of an upcoming wine shortage, which could leave the wine shelves empty over the Christmas Period.

Is there any truth to this? Has there been a wine shortage before? Why would there be a wine shortage? Read on to find out.

 

Has There Been A Wine Shortage Before?

You may have seen scaremongering articles and clickbait about upcoming shortages every year - if you see an article about a shortage of wine, chances are, you’re going to click on it.

In fact, one quick Google search of ‘wine shortage 2013’ or ‘wine shortage 2014’ or every year until now will bring up plenty of results claiming that a wine shortage is imminent.

In most instances where an upcoming wine shortage has been reported, nothing has happened.

Even when there were issues with the supplier, the supermarket shelves didn’t really suffer - and you wouldn’t have noticed a difference.

For example, there were countless posts, articles, and news reports of a ‘major’ Prosecco shortage back in 2016 due to a rise in demand - after all, who doesn’t love a bottomless brunch?

Well, the truth is, when there is a wine shortage, the public generally won’t be affected by it as vintners and major manufacturers around the globe will have reserves.

Many things can affect the making and distribution of wine - from freak weather such as storms, snow, or even heat waves to consumer behaviour, from staffing issues to petrol issues.

A poor grape harvest back in 2012 led to headlines in all major UK newspapers of a wine shortage.

The International Organisation for Vine and Wine (OIV) said that global wine production will drop to its lowest since 1975 - when the records began.

This may have led you to believe that the wine shelves in your local off-licence or supermarket would be empty - but the reality is that you would’ve simply been paying an extra £1 maximum.

 

What Is Going On With Lorry Drivers?

If you’ve been to a food shop recently, you may have noticed some things missing from the shelves.

Well, the main reason behind this is that there’s a shortage of lorry drivers in the UK.

This is for a multitude of reasons including covid and Brexit that have combined to create a mass lorry driver shortage.

This has been a growing issue for some time and was very recently made a lot worse due to it impacting fuel deliveries.

Unless you live under a rock, you’ll have seen headlines in every major news outlet in the UK about fuel shortages - footage of queues at petrol stations going for miles, and even one video of a man on a horse at a petrol station.

Fuel shortages have been going on for a while, and now we’ve been warned that a shortage of lorry drivers will cause further major supply chain issues very shortly.

There are several causes of the shortage of lorry drivers. For a start, lorry drivers get paid a relatively low amount in comparison to many other industries.

Lorry drivers have also reported many issues in the sector - including limited facilities and lack of access to them.

Also, many HGV drivers tend to be middle-aged, with the average age of an HGV driver being 55.

This means that the industry has a relatively high retirement rate.

 

Brexit

According to the RHA (Road Haulage Association), there is a shortage of over 100,000 drivers.

Before Covid, there was a shortage of around 60,000 drivers - and although the number appears to have risen due to the pandemic, it’s clear that there was an issue before covid-19.

This is because of the changes to migration rules due to Brexit. The UK isn’t part of the single market anymore - the single market means that HGV drivers can move across borders freely.

Because of Brexit, a lot more bureaucracy is involved when travelling to and from the UK, which can both be expensive and time-consuming.

This can be very unfortunate for those paid for distance rather than time, as there have been reports of HGV drivers queuing at borders for days at a time.

The tax regime in the UK after Brexit also makes the industry less appealing, so fewer and fewer people are wanting to become HGV drivers.

 

Covid

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a major effect on the number of HGV drivers in the UK.

It has affected many industries, but it has really taken its toll on lorry drivers.

Many European drivers who worked in the UK have headed home due to the pandemic and the travel restrictions that came with it.

Because of the pandemic, over 30,000 HGV tests didn’t go ahead - meaning that around 25,000 less candidates passed their test last year than in 2019.

The pandemic has made it difficult for existing HGV drivers to do their job effectively and has prevented potential HGV drivers from passing their tests to enter the profession.

 

So, Will There Be A Wine Shortage At Christmas?

The effect that the lorry driver shortage has had on the wine industry has been minimal so far, but will likely come into play around Christmas time, as people love a glass of wine over Christmas. 

The food, logistics, and hospitality industry has been dealing with shortages for a while now - KFC has had to remove items from the menu, McDonald’s has run out of its famous milkshakes, and Nandos is struggling to keep up with the demand for chicken.

It’s not just food that has been affected so far - some pubs, including the popular Wetherspoons, have run out of certain types of alcohol and had to amend their menus accordingly.

This is likely to worsen over the Christmas period, where people typically stock up on their favourite foods, from Pringles to Prosecco.

The Chief Executive of Accolade, Robert Foye, stated that there could be issues with wine supplies around the Christmas period.

Accolade is the UK’s largest wine firm, owning brands such as Echo Falls, Hardys, and Banrock Station.

Foye also said that the shortages of lorry drivers could not only lead to shortages but drive up the costs of wines.

Accolade appears to have been hit by staff shortages, typically among suppliers, delivery, and distribution, which will likely impact the number of wine products on the shelves of your local supermarket this Christmas.

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