“We’re living through the worst driver shortage that we’ve seen in recent history.”

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A shortage of HGV drivers is plaguing businesses across Europe. Will the salmon industry be the next to be affected?

A spectre is haunting Europe. What was once a quiet squall in the supply chain is escalating into a perfect storm created by high gas prices, problems with the supply of CO2 and driver shortages.

SalmonBusiness reported last week on the problems caused by the driver shortage in Norway: “Transport is desperate. I do not think there is a carrier in all of Norway I have not been in contact with. It is a complete crisis,” said an exporter. “There are delays. There are very few trucks coming up to Norway with fruit and vegetables – and then a lot of salmon goes out. A difficult combination.”

Illustration: The New European

Now, the crisis is gaining increasing coverage across the continent. In the UK, critics have been quick to pin the blame on Brexit but a closer look reveals the transport crisis is more general, with Poland, for example, currently short of around 124,000 drivers, or 37 per cent of its required workforce, according to a recent report by TI Insight.

Jose Gomez-Urquiza, chief executive of immigration agency Visa Solutions, told The Daily Express: “We’re living through the worst driver shortage that we’ve seen in recent history, by far.”

Source: TI Insight

This shortage is begining to affect the broader salmon industry. Speaking to SalmonBusiness, Ewan MacColl, Logistics Director, Mowi Scotland said, “We are starting to see the effects of the shortage of truck drivers in the UK. While this has not impacted our overall ability to deliver, it has resulted in higher costs and longer lead times.”

This was confirmed by Hanus Jacobson of Bakkafrost, “We have certainly noticed the issue, but we are mostly using our own trucks and drivers, so we have been lucky in that sense. For greater distance shipping we have worked very closely with our shipping partners, and so far we have been able to operate without issues – some minor delays here and there. I think the lack off drivers is a part of the bigger problem with lack of employees in general. We are monitoring it closely, making sure that we are in fact able to meet all our commitments.”