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The Cold Chain Federation has warned that excess demand for frozen and chilled storage could lead to a warehousing shortage in the sector within two weeks.

Shane Brennan, chief executive of the Cold Chain Federation, said: “With frozen and chilled food products still coming into store at a high rate but demand all but gone for many usual customers such as food service, schools and airlines, cold stores are now starting to fill up.

Chilled Warehouse, Easton

“We predict that they will be full across the UK, with no new space available, in about two weeks’ time.

Brennan said that cold chain businesses were “doing their best” to plan ahead, at the same time as “battling” to meet wildly changing requirements from week to week: “Forward planning is very tough when total uncertainty means that feasibly life could pretty much return to normal by September, but equally restrictions could stay in place at some level until Spring or even Summer 2021.

“Another major concern for the near future is how can government possibly have the new customs checks infrastructure that is needed in place by 31 December?” Brennan warned ahead of the end of the transition period for the UK’s departure from the European Union.

“There wasn’t enough time to put in place the infrastructure, people and systems needed before Covid-19, and there certainly isn’t now. The fact that government does not seem willing to admit this is very worrying. The risk is chaos and confusion that food supply chain businesses, which will still be reeling from the damage wrought by the Covid-19 recession, will be expected to resolve.”