Wholesalers have been forced to cancel deliveries as the fuel crisis brings fleets to a standstill.
Businesses that rely on forecourts to fill up on fuel have told customers to make other arrangements as entire routes have been cancelled today and tomorrow, including deliveries intended for public sector organisations.
One industry source warned: “My real concern is not tomorrow where we have already cancelled drops, it’s the rest of the week if this situation doesn’t rapidly improve.”
Meanwhile several larger wholesalers that refuel on site have seen up to a 10% jump in fuel prices since the weekend.
In some cases wholesale diesel price has reached £1.50 per litre.
Businesses which have depot-based refuelling terminals have also told The Grocer supply has become unreliable.
“On the one hand we are fortunate that we have our own fuel tanks, but they only hold enough for two to three days. Ordinarily that’s fine as we get regular deliveries,” said one wholesale CEO. “However, last week we had three depots run out of fuel as our supplier failed to deliver. Again that was okay as we just filled up at the local petrol station. But this was before panic buying set in.”
“If it happens this week we will be high and dry. We can’t take 50 HGVs down to the local garage to fill up!”
Meanwhile, another wholesale executive said its fuel supplier cancelled a “vital” delivery yesterday because it was “prioritising supermarkets”.
The Federation of Wholesale Distributors CEO James Bielby has called on Defra to prioritise those wholesalers that distribute food and drink into hospitals, schools and care homes.
Bielby told The Grocer that so far the request has been refused.