U.K. Tries to Save Supply Chains as France Blocks Trucks Over Covid Strain

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  • Bloomberg Quicktake: Now published this video item, entitled “U.K. Tries to Save Supply Chains as France Blocks Trucks Over Covid Strain” – below is their description.

    U.K. firms desperate to maintain supply lines after France blocked truck traffic are looking at switching to cargo jets and freight trains to keep goods flowing.

    J Sainsbury Plc and Tesco Plc are exploring all options to keep supplies flowing, including the use of planes for some fresh-vegetable shipments instead of truck ferries, while Deutsche Lufthansa AG may add dedicated freighter flights to the U.K. Eurotunnel, which operates the Channel Tunnel rail link between Britain and France, said talks are underway about running extra freight trains.

    “There’s been a great deal of discussion with a number of companies contacting us, both existing customers and potential new ones,” Eurotunnel spokesman John Keefe said. “We’d already seen an increase in demand because of the Brexit deadline but there’s plenty of spare capacity.”

    Trucks bound for the continent are lined up on the M20 motorway outside Dover, Britain’s busiest ferry port, after a new coronavirus strain prompted France on Sunday to bar drivers from crossing the Channel. The ban, which also applies to Eurotunnel’s truck shuttles, threatens to disrupt just-in-time supply chains and to create shortages of some foods and perishable goods.

    Sainsbury said it’s exploring alternatives to trucks to keep its stores stocked with lettuce, cauliflowers, broccoli and citrus fruits from the Continent. Air-freight is an option, though the grocer hopes that France and Britain will reach an agreement to reopen links, spokeswoman Victoria Durman said.

    Tesco, Britain’s biggest supermarket, has “plenty of food for Christmas,” said Shona Buchanan, a spokeswoman. But if the disruption continues beyond the next two days, “there may be reduced supply on a few items later this week.”

    Grocers cannot stockpile perishable fresh produce, meaning regular replenishment of supplies is essential. Alternative supply routes being considered alongside air freight include the use of ferries sent directly from Spain and increasing stock from Holland and the U.K.

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