What is causing the shortage of snacks and chips in the world’s largest factory?

British shoppers have been in short supply in recent years, from fuel to pasta, and now some of the country’s favorite French fries are starting to disappear from supermarket shelves.

Walkers has warned that some of its snacks may be running low for weeks after an IT glitch at the world’s largest bacon factory.

But what happened and how long will the shortage continue?

Why is there a shortage?

Walkers has revealed that some of its products have been affected after the IT failure, which occurred during the £14m upgrade of its South Area distribution center in Leicester, its largest distribution site in the UK.

The company said the issue has now been resolved, but its sites are still operating on a limited scale.

The brittle maker is said to prioritize the production of its most popular products, including staples like salt, vinegar, salty foods, cheese, and onions, as well as braces and lumps.

What did Walkers say?

A Walkers spokesperson said in a statement: “The recent update to our IT system has disrupted the supply of some of our products. Our locations still make french fries and sandwiches, but on a limited scale.”

“We are doing our best to increase production and get people’s favorite products back on shelves. We are very sorry for the inconvenience.”

Read more: Wholesale inflation rose 8.6% in the US

When will it end?

Walkers expects the shortage to continue for several more weeks as its factories likely won’t return to normal production levels until late November.

Empty and crunchy shelves at Waitrose supermarket in Canary Wharf, London

(Victor Jacques/Reuters)

The breadth of the supply crisis

British supply chains have been hit in recent months by a shortage of post-Brexit truck drivers and global supply setbacks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which is fueling inflation.

Gas stations dried up and long queues formed in late September and early October as the UK faced a fuel crisis caused by a heavy vehicle (HGV) driver shortage and panic buying.

In August, McDonald’s removed shakes and packaged drinks from its menu, and fast food chain Nando’s closed about 50 locations due to staff shortages in its chicken supply chain.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak also tried to reassure concerned shoppers that there are not enough Christmas gifts available this year due to the supply chain crisis.

The UK is now also facing supply disruptions to the popular breakfast cereal Weetabix after ramping up industrial measures.

Unite members will strike four days a week at the Weetabix plants in Kettering and Corby due to the changes they say could cost them up to £5,000 a year.

The union claims workers are being subjected to “sack and re-employment” tactics and has said strikes will continue to increase until the company changes course.

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