Fresh food supplies over Christmas face “serious disruption” as a result of France’s ban on freight from the UK, an industry body has warned.
The Food and Drink Federation, representing UK manufacturers, also warned of the impact on produce due to be transported to the continent.
France has not banned lorries from travelling into Britain but the worry is that hauliers will not want to enter the country if they cannot then go back home.
FDF chief executive Ian Wright said on Sunday night that the ban on freight traffic from the UK to France “has the potential to cause serious disruption to UK Christmas fresh food supplies – and exports of UK food and drink”.
He added: “Continental truckers will not want to travel here if they have a real fear of getting marooned.
“The government must very urgently persuade the French government to exempt accompanied freight from its ban.”
The British Retail Consortium’s director of food and sustainability Andrew Opie said the situation “poses difficulties for UK capacity to import and export key goods during the busy Christmas period”.
“While goods can enter from France, few haulage firms will be willing to send trucks and drivers across to the UK without a guarantee they can return to the EU in a timely manner,” he said.
“This is a key supply route for fresh produce at this time of year: the channel crossings see 10,000 trucks passing daily during peak periods such as in the run up to Christmas.
“We urge the UK government and the EU to find a pragmatic solution to this as soon as possible, to prevent disruption for consumers.
“Retailers have stocked up on goods ahead of Christmas which should prevent immediate problems.
“However, any prolonged closure of the French border would be a problem as the UK enters the final weeks before the transition ends on 31 December.”
Logistics UK – formerly the Freight Transport Association – said it was “very concerned about the welfare of drivers travelling from the UK to France at this time and is urgently seeking more information for our members”.
“Driver health and safety is our key concern, and it is essential that they continue to be recognised as key workers and given access to testing, if necessary, as a priority to ensure the continued movement of goods to and from France,” the organisation said.
“Shoppers should not panic buy – retailers will be making every effort to ensure there is stock within the system, including fresh produce, and it is important that we remember that inbound traffic still has access to the UK.
“We are maintaining close contact with UK government to ensure that supplies of fresh produce are available throughout Christmas and the New Year.”