Chicken Run: Nando’s shuts restaurants after running short of supplies

September 18, 2021

3 min read

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What's going on here?

The South African chain Nando’s, famous for its peri-peri chicken, were forced to close multiple restaurants last month due to staff and supply shortages.

What does this mean?

2 Sisters Food Group, one of the UK’s largest chicken producers, reported chronic staff shortages, which led to huge disruptions in the chicken supply chain. This meant that Nando’s were forced to shut 50 of their 450 restaurants across England, Scotland and Wales.

However, shortages have not been limited to chicken alone. Despite restrictions being lifted, many industries have still struggled to operate normally due to changes in supply. Supermarkets have faced similar difficulties, with shoppers and staff reporting empty shelves, reduced opening hours, and a surge in temporary staff recruitment to cover absences. Not only this, but carmakers, the hospitality industry, and transport operators have also been hit, with road haulage firms in particular feeling the effects of the shortage in qualified drivers.

What's the big picture effect?

There are two main reasons for the shortages we are seeing at the moment. The first is, of course, the ongoing pandemic.

Along with the sudden rise in demand due to freedom day on July 19 2021, allowing bars and restaurants to welcome customers in at full capacity again, the NHS Track and Trace system has also caused a stir. Otherwise known as the ‘pingdemic’, the app, which urges those who have been in contact with a positive case to stay home, has in some cases meant whole restaurants have had to isolate and ultimately close. Andrew Opie, Director of food sustainability at the BRC explained that “with community cases soaring, the number of healthy retail staff having to self-isolate is rising fast, disrupting retail operations”.

However, as of 16 August 2021, the government agreed to allow fully vaccinated staff to continue to come into work, in an attempt to relieve some of the pressure businesses are under as a result of staff shortages.

However, post-Brexit restrictions around immigration have arguably had a more detrimental effect than the pandemic. New regulations around EU workers have pushed farmers and drivers to return back to their countries, which comes at a particularly difficult time, as many grace periods come to an end. Coupled with the ongoing effects of the pandemic, freedom of movement for workers would have brought some welcome relief to many struggling industries.

With 60% of the poultry sector’s 40,000 workers coming from EU countries, the industry is particularly vulnerable, with the British Poultry Council warning that staff shortages could result in an estimated 20% reduction in the supply of turkeys this Christmas.

With poultry making up 50% of the meat eaten in the UK, one suggestion for the Home Office was to consider poultry workers as ‘skilled workers’, so they are included in a seasonal labour scheme. Despite the integral role they play in the food supply chain and feeding the nation, the points-based system currently favours highly educated workers instead.

It had always been predicted that there would be a few months of post-Brexit disruption, however, no one knew this would coincide with a global pandemic. With many industries, including restaurants, still struggling after months of closure or limited capacity, paired with Brexit, the knock-on effect to other areas of society is major. After all, who would have thought a referendum and a virus would get in the way of a cheeky Nando’s?

Report written by Lotanna Okaro

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