80 tonnes of fresh food has been flown into the UK after shortage fears

Wednesday, 23rd December 2020, 3:39 pm
Updated Wednesday, 23rd December 2020, 3:39 pm

Eighty tonnes of fruit and vegetables have been flown into the UK by airline Lufthansa, to help restock supermarket shelves.

The German company said it was carrying a cargo of lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli, strawberries and citrus fruits. It is also considering whether to put on additional special cargo flights in order to meet demand.

‘Shortages of fresh produce’

Lufthansa said that a B777 freighter aircraft would arrive at Doncaster Sheffield airport at around lunchtime today (Wed 23 Dec).

This comes after supermarkets and suppliers struggled to find ways to stock shelves, as thousands of lorries and vans remain trapped outside Dover. Retailers announced on Tuesday that vehicles would have to get moving within 24 hours, or else there would be shortages of fresh produce from 27 December.

Director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, Andrew Opie, revealed that there could still be issues in stores, despite the fact that the blockade has now lifted.

He said, “It is good news for consumers as French borders have now reopened, however it is essential that lorries get moving across the border as quickly as possible.

“Until the backlog is cleared and supply chains return to normal, we anticipate issues with the availability of some fresh goods.”

‘Additional special cargo flights’

A spokesperson told the BBC, “Lufthansa Cargo is currently examining whether additional special cargo flights can be offered during the next days. We are also checking if a regular flight might be possible.

“This could be with a freighter, but we are also examining if we could use passenger aircraft for freight flights only.”

Lufthansa said that the delivery, which was sent by freight firm Venus International Transport, was destined for Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Co-op and Aldi shops.

‘Thousands waiting to cross the channel’

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) estimated that up to 1,000 lorries, and thousands more small vans, are waiting to cross the Channel after the two day French ban on freight arriving from the UK.

A spokesperson said, “This is going to be a long process taking not hours but days. Nothing is moving.”

The RHA explained that clearing the backlog would take days because the Dover port area was in “gridlock.” Drivers are also required to take a Covid-19 test before they can cross the Channel.