Supermarket shortages: Boris Johnson warns shelves could stay empty in months ahead - sparking Christmas fears

Supply chain issues have been ongoing for months.

Boris Johnson has warned that supermarket shelves could stay empty in the months ahead, sparking fears of shortages in the run-up to Christmas.

The Prime Minister told reporters that the food sector was struggling due to a lack of hauliers and soaring gas demand, but claimed the problems were temporary.

We want to hear from you: let us know what you think about this story and be part of the debate in our comments section below

At a glance: 5 key points

  • The UK has been hit by shortages in everything from fresh fruit to meat in recent weeks due to supply chain issues.
  • Many have put the issues down to a shortage of HGV drivers and a general shortage of labour in the wake of Brexit and new, tougher immigration rules. 
  • A high global demand for gas has also caused problems in the supply chain, with meat producers warning that a fall in carbon dioxide supply could threaten production of meat products.
  • The government held talks with energy suppliers over the weekend (September 18) to discuss a potential rise in wholesale gas prices.
  • The PM has indicated that issues with the supply chain will be temporary, but did not indicate how long the disruption might last. 

What’s been said

Ahead of a trip to the United States, Johnson spoke to reporters about supply issues, saying from his plane:

"We’re experiencing bottlenecks in all kinds of things as the world wakes up from Covid.

"It’s like everybody going back to put the kettle on at the end of a TV programme, you’re seeing huge stresses on the world supply systems.

"But you’re also seeing businesses bouncing back strongly."

He added: "It is fundamentally caused by the global economy coming to life again.

"The guy ropes are pinging off Gulliver and it’s standing up, and it’s going to take a while, as it were, for the circulation to adjust.”


The UK has been plagued by problems in the supply chain for several months, with the “pingdemic” initially blamed for a shortage in workers thanks to the large volume of those forced to self-isolate.

The current problems with the supply chain are being blamed on a shortage of labour throughout the supply chain, especially a shortage of lorry drivers.

A message from the editor:

Thank you for reading. NationalWorld is a new national news brand, produced by a team of journalists, editors, video producers and designers who live and work across the UK. Find out more about who’s who in the team, and our editorial values. We want to start a community among our readers, so please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and keep the conversation going. You can also sign up to our newsletters and get a curated selection of our best reads to your inbox every day.