There is a stand-off between the government and business about a solution. Consumers can't get milkshakes at UK branches of McDonald's, stores are running low on bacon, milk, and bread, as well as potential Christmas shortages.
The logistical pressure could drive costs for businesses, causing higher prices for consumers.
'I don't want to scaremonger and there is no need to panic buy but that said availability has never really been so bad. It's getting worse and you can see that when you go into the shops,' said Iceland Foods CEO Richard Walker.
The scramble to get products is playing out around the world as a post-Covid crisis lockdown surge in global demand fuses with supply squeezes, worker shortages, and port disruption. The drama has the added issue of Brexit, complicating hiring from the EU.
Retailers are pushing for government help, seeking EU truck drivers to be added to a special visa programme to make it easier to fill the 100,000 shortfalls in workers.
The government is refusing to budge, arguing that companies can lure staff with better wages. Companies are becoming desperate as the holiday season approaches.
'The government has said there's enough people in the UK to fill these jobs. But where are they hiding? No one knows,' said British Meat Processors Association operations director David Lindars.