Amid fears of prolonged boarder chaos between France and the UK, supermarkets and their suppliers have begun airlifting of fresh fruit and vegetables into the UK to prevent shortages.
Tesco had airlifted produce from Spain and north Africa and another said it was considering doing so, Lufthansa landed 80 tonnes of fruit and vegetables at Doncaster airport on Wednesday.
The delivery, including lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli, strawberries and citrus fruits came as the German airline said it was considering scheduling additional special cargo flights to meet demand.
Supermarkets and their suppliers are scrambling to find alternative ways to stock shelves as thousands of lorries and vans remain stuck outside Dover.
As the disruptions in dover and Kent mounts, many companies are looking for ways to avoid disruption at container ports including Felixstowe, which have been congested for weeks as result of Covid-related disruption.
Andrew Opie, the director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said on Wednesday there could still be problems in stores despite the lifting of the blockade because many lorries remained gridlocked.
“It is good news for consumers as the French borders have now reopened, however it is essential that lorries get moving across the border as quickly as possible. Until the backlog is cleared and supply chains return to normal, we anticipate issues with the availability of some fresh goods,” he said.
The Road Haulage Association (RHA) now estimates that up to 10,000 lorries and thousands more small vans are waiting to cross the Channel after the two-day French ban on freight arriving from the UK.
The trade body said it could take several days to clear the backlog because the Dover port area was in “gridlock”. “This is going to be a long process, taking not hours but days,” a spokesman said. “Nothing is moving.”
Clearing the queue will take time as all drivers must test negative for Covid-19 before being allowed into France.