Supplies of Quality Street chocolate are under threat this Christmas as its owner Nestle battles with staff shortages and delivery issues.
Mark Schneider, the chief executive of Nestle, said the company, which also owns Nescafe and KitKat chocolate bars, was seeing “some labour shortages and some transportation issues” ahead of the Christmas period.
He told the BBC: “It’s our UK team’s top priority to work constructively with retailers to supply them.”
Mr Schneider said the company was “working hard” to make sure there was not a shortage of Quality Street in shops this Christmas.
The chocolate brand was founded in 1936 in Halifax, West Yorkshire, and is named after the JM Barrie play Quality Street.
A Nestle spokesman said: “Like all businesses we are managing a number of challenges at the moment but we are working hard to mitigate those issues and are not seeing, or expecting, a material impact on supply.
“Our factory in Halifax manufactures up to 12 million Quality Street sweets every day and there will be plenty to go around this Christmas.”
The warning from Nestle is the latest sign of pressure in the food industry ahead of the busiest period of the year for manufacturers, with the final three months of the year known as the “Golden Quarter”.
Boris Johnson failed to rule out shortages this Christmas earlier this week, after Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, warned disruption could continue for the next few months. Mr Johnson said: “It depends how you interpret what he is saying.”
Fears over shortages have sparked a surge in sales of items such as frozen turkeys, as people stock up early.
According to Iceland, sales of frozen turkeys were up more than 400pc in September compared to last year, whilst searches for “Christmas” on its website hit more than 17,000 in the last week.
The online meat retailer Farmison said it had seen Christmas orders made in September surge by 150pc on last year.
Concerns over Christmas food supply have been bubbling for some months, with the Telegraph reporting in June that more supermarkets might have to start importing pigs in blankets from overseas due to staff shortages at meat processing plants.
Pigs in blankets are made months in advance and put in freezers, so labour shortages over the summer meant businesses were already struggling to keep up with demand.
Tesco yesterday said there could be “bumps in the road” in supply, as shipping costs remained high and delivery drivers in short supply.
However, the retailer said it was confident of good product availability.