Welcome to the future?

How interesting to see the photograph of the empty bread shelves in Asda during the recent cold weather.

From some personal experience this was – remarkably – no different at Tesco who have the most sophisticated UK ordering system – indeed it may well be the best anywhere. The enormous Walmart, owners of Asda, who had already used Asda’s UK systems to make their earlier German purchase profitable, now find themselves in Tesco’s wake and were reported to have copied many of Tesco’s systems,  including detailed branch weather forecasts, when Tesco’s American subsidiary ‘Fresh n’Easy’ closed, largely owing to short sighted and short termist City pressure.

Still, that is history.

Now everyone is lean and mean – everything is just in time; this includes, not just Asda’s bread suppliers, but also all supermarket fresh foods. Which is dependent, of course, on open borders and swift lorry delivery.

We now see there is no back up stock, or even cold weather slack in the system. I strongly suspect that even for non perishable foods this is also the case, because wholesale margins are typically around 2% even for (own label) non perishable goods.

Yet we import at least 40% of our food, about a quarter from the EU. So a few hours lost on customs checks would completely change the import logistics.

At least the snow was temporary and is now fast disappearing.

But, still, the government has only a wish-list and no plans.

Yet Brexit will be permanent.

Let us hope that hunger isn’t.


  1. Sean Danaher -

    It all bizarre. Ireland France and the Netherlands are putting plans in place for the extra delays and custom checks, but so far nothing in the UK. One would almost think Brexit wasn’t going to happen

  2. Peter May -

    Agreed – and when we might be in danger of not being able to feed ourselves. Completely irresponsible – or Brexit isn’t going to happen!

      1. Andrew -

        I heard people involved with the ports of Rotterdam and Calais, interviewed on the radio in the last few days. Rotterdam has already been making a significant investment in additional customs capability, just in case.

        In Calais, they are about to complete an significant investment to increase throughput based on the current position, but it might cost them millions to reconfigure if additional customs checks are required. They are considering how they might establish direct ferry routes to Ireland.

        I doubt the UK will be properly prepared in time – perhaps we will just wave everything through – but fully expect the existing direct ferry routes from Continental ports such as Roscoff, Cherboug and Santander to Irish ports such as Cork, Rosslare and Dublin will become much busier.

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