Britain’s supermarkets are struggling to ensure adequate food supply after reports of panic hoarding due to what the British press calls “ping-demic” – a reference to being “pinged” by the NHS test-and-trace system.
We noted on Monday that ping-demic was likely to “lead to food shortages,” and that is precisely what is happening today.
The Independent reports UK’s largest supermarkets are experiencing shortages after the number of people getting “pinged” on the NHS Test and triggered mass confusion.
The NHS app sent a half-million alerts last week, notifying users they have to quarantine for ten days because of possible close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
This has caused a supply chain shock and disruptions as hundreds of thousands of people panic buy food and fuel to survive the quarantine.
British newspapers and social media users published pictures of empty supermarket shelves.
“We’re very concerned about the situation,” Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng told Sky News when asked about panic hoarding at supermarkets. “We’re monitoring the situation.”
Sainsbury’s, Britain’s second-largest supermarket group, warned about supply shortages:
“We are working hard to ensure customers can find what they need.
“While we might not always have the exact product a customer is looking for in every store, large quantities of products are being delivered to stores daily and our colleagues are focused on getting them onto the shelves as quickly as they can,” a Sainsbury’s spokesperson told Reuters.
The ping-demic comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson lifted the remaining COVID-linked restrictions on movement and business at midnight on Monday, finally allowing people to move about more or less freely, even as new COVID cases are climbing in the UK and much of the EU.
A meat industry body warned that Britain’s food supply chains are on the cusp of “failing” due to labor shortages.
British supermarket Iceland had to close several stores in recent weeks due to staff shortages.
Rabobank’s Michal Every points out that ping-demic is hugely disruptive to businesses as crucial staff suddenly don’t turn up to work when there are already labor shortages.