Shoppers are facing a five per cent hike in food prices amid lorry driver and gas shortages, the boss of Tesco has warned.
Speaking to ITV's Robert Peston last night, the supermarket's chairman John Allan warned of a perfect storm of issues and said efforts were being made to avert a 'horrendous crisis at Christmas'.
He said: 'I think it's almost impossible to forecast, but I mean I think we're probably looking at, for food overall, you know, mid-single digit increases which is much higher than we've had in recent years.
'I think certainly while we get through this particular set of issues that we're contending with, which include shortage of labour in a number of important areas of food manufacturing, shortage of HGV drivers, which can be fixed, and we're all working very hard to fix.'
Nationally, food supply chains have been placed under intense stress because of a shortage of around 100,000 HGV drivers - with empty shelves across most UK supermarkets as a result.
They were further damaged after two plants that produce 60 per cent of the UK's CO2 were shut down amid rising gas prices.
CO2 is used for everything from the humane slaughter of chickens and pigs, to putting the fizz in soft drinks and creating packaging that keeps foods fresh.
Tesco chairman John Allan admitted that food prices could rise in the run-up to Christmas
Empty shelves are seen in the meat aisle of a Co-Op supermarket branch in Harpenden
Shelves in a supermarket look sparse yesterday as supply chain issues continue in Northwitch
Despite the government agreeing a deal to restart production at the plants, industry bodies have warned that consumers may still see a hike in food prices, particularly if the cost of CO2 rises.
However, Tesco boss Mr Allan insisted there was no need to panic buy and that Christmas would not be 'terrible'.
He said: 'I don't think the end result will be a horrendous crisis at Christmas. I would hate for people to get the impression that we are going to have a terrible Christmas and they've got to go out and panic buy.'
Yesterday, Tesco revealed it was currently suffering a shortfall of approximately 800 HGV drivers as it urged the Government to ease restrictions on foreign workers to help alleviate the supply chain crisis.
Despite being the UK's largest supermarket chain, and offering new employees a £1,000 bonus since July, Andrew Woolfenden, Tesco's distribution and