LORRY driver shortages are having a knock-on effect on Scotland's hospitality sector as businesses are reporting delays and cancellations of beer orders and struggle to find gas supplies.

The shortage of lorry drivers in the UK has been affecting food supplies across the UK as many European HGV specialists left at the outset of the pandemic and won't return due to Brexit.

It led to empty shelves across supermarkets in Scotland the rest of the UK with industry experts warning that the problem is likely to get worse.

The UK Government has even suggested bringing in military personnel qualified to drive HGVs to deal with the issue.

As Scotland's hospitality industry attempts to get back on its feet after 18 months of lockdowns and restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, businesses are facing shortages due to the lack of staff at haulage companies.

READ MORE: Using armed forces 'will not scratch the surface' of HGV crisis, haulage head says

Some pubs are reporting beer orders falling short by around 75% as others are being cancelled entirely.

Colin Wilkinson, managing director of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA), said: “The full re-opening of the hospitality sector has been hit with two serious issues – a shortage of staff availability and the more recent immediate problems facing the supply chain.

“SLTA members are already reporting delays and cancellations of orders placed with brewers and other supply chain operators and in some instances beer orders that have been delivered fall far short by around 75%. 

“In many cases, packaged goods are not being delivered and we have reports of pub and bar owners travelling the length of the country to source supplies.”

Wilkinson added that SLTA has heard reports about the selective supply of goods from companies to certain parts of their customer base.

“Added to our woes is now the concern over CO2 and nitrogen gas supplies, even when we do get beer delivered,” said Wilkinson.

“Reports are coming in that some gas orders have been cancelled on more than one occasion. The last thing this sector needs is more hurdles in place in the race to its recovery.” 

Suppliers have said that "resource issues" from logistics companies mean that not all orders are able to be filled.

A spokesperson for Heineken said: “Due to the resource issues we continue to face in third party logistics, we have notified our customers that we will not be able to fulfil all orders after having explored every possible option for delivery.

“We continue to work with our partners to resolve the situation, while exploring alternative methods to get our beers and ciders to customers.”

READ MORE: UK 'ignoring' shortage of 100,000 HGV drivers amid Scottish supply fears

The company that carries out deliveries for the Belhaven Brewery Group, GXO, said that the “whole sector is faced with a driver shortage” as demand for drivers increases due to a growth in e-commerce over the pandemic.

A spokesperson said: “Along with our peers, we signed the Road Haulage Association letter mentioning that one of the ways to cope with the driver shortage would be to place driving on the UK 'Occupational Shortage List', which would enable EU drivers to re-enter the UK, in order to stabilise the UK drivers issue and help the food supply chain.

“What’s true for drivers is also true for warehouse operatives: with the increasing volumes in e-commerce, we expect high demand for the peak season in Q4. Our logistics business will be using this summer to hold a recruitment drive to recruit for over 14,000 posts across the UK.”