Tesco has told shoppers they can only make three purchases of eggs, rice, soap and toilet roll amid fears that food shortages will run until after Christmas.
The supermarket giant said in an email to customers yesterday it was introducing the temporary limits on certain essentials ‘to help all customers have access to these products’.
CEO Jason Tarry added that it still had ‘good availability’ on fresh products imported from France such as lettuce, cauliflower and citrus fruit and urged customers to ‘shop as you normally would’, citing strong stock levels.
But with 3,000 lorries stuck in Kent amid chaos at the Port of Dover, ministers believe a backlog of deliveries may not be cleared until after Christmas.
Hauliers told The Times there would be a ‘massive impact’ on supply chains and the risk of food shortages.
Tesco has reminded shoppers about a three-item limit on products including flour, dried pasta, toilet roll, baby wipes and anti-bacterial wipes
Tesco maintains in-store limits on flour, dried pasta, toilet roll, baby wipes and anti-bacterial wipes are due to coronavirus panic buying – not concerns about the impending Brexit deadline or problems at Dover.
It comes as Government sources have suggested putting all of England into a third lockdown after Christmas as a mutant strain of the virus spreads across the country.
Yesterday Home Secretary Priti Patel refused to rule out another lockdown, telling Sky News: ‘If the virus continues to spread then we will take stronger measures because at the end of the day our objective is to save lives and to keep people safe.’
Almost 3,000 lorries were stranded in Kent following France’s travel ban, which was announced on Sunday.
The British Retail Consortium, the trade association for UK retailers, yesterday reassured the British public that there is enough food available for Christmas.
All the ingredients and produce needed for a traditional Christmas dinner are already in the country and available to consumers, they said.
Tesco says the limit is in place in light of Covid-19 restrictions, not due to concerns over Brexit, or major delays at the Port of Dover
But if empty lorries are not allowed into France to restock, there will be shortages of fresh produce, with supplies of salad, vegetables and fresh fruit such as strawberries and raspberries most at risk as they are typically imported from the continent a this time of year.
Fortunately France and Britain reached a deal on Tuesday night allowing lorries to cross The Channel, provided they have a negative Covid test to hand.
Number 10 yesterday called for calm as panic-buyers formed long queues outside supermarkets. People were instead urged to ‘shop normally’ for all their festive staples.
Earlier this month it was revealed Tesco was stockpiling in the event of a No Deal Brexit.
John Allan, the chairman of Tesco, believes the average shopping bill could go up five per cent and also claimed French cheeses like brie could be 40 per cent more expensive if there is no EU trade deal.
But critics have said there is plenty of British brie to eat and the UK is already importing 20 per cent less cheese from abroad every year.
Earlier this month it was revealed Tesco was stockpiling in the event of a No Deal Brexit, while Tier 4 Londoners were still able to visit their local shop on the Old Kent Road yesterday (pictured)
Mr Allan, who joined the supermarket last year, said: ‘Tesco is getting ready for the worst case which is a No Deal, trying to ensure as much as we can that we stockpile long life products either in our warehouses or with our suppliers.
‘We are trying to minimise the risk of food being caught in what is probably going to be the most difficult place, which is the port of Dover.
‘We may have some shortages of fresh foods, particularly short life fresh foods. I think that will only be for a limited period, a month or two before we get back to normal.
‘There might just be slightly restricted choice for a period of time’.