Supermarkets all over the country are struggling with empty shelves. After a week of farmer protests and blockades, this is gradually making itself felt in the supermarkets. Supermarket chains hope to get rid of the empty shelves by early next week.
Anyone who went to do their weekly shopping today will soon have noticed that the store shelves showed empty holes here and there. Almost every major retailer was still experiencing delivery problems on Saturday. At the Delhaize supermarket chain, farmers blocked the Zellik and Ninove depots on Saturday morning. “Fortunately, this has now been lifted this afternoon around 2 p.m. The trucks that were ready to load were able to leave in the meantime and our suppliers were also able to deliver their products again,” says spokesperson Roel Dekelver. “But it is of course true that certain stores have not had certain deliveries and that this has resulted in empty store shelves.”
Aldi also suffered from blockages in their distribution centers in Zemst and Turnhout on Saturday. And because each depot is responsible for supplying a number of stores, those stores have been severely affected by the blockages. Other stores are experiencing less or no problems. “The blockade in Zemst was resolved in the afternoon, but unfortunately not yet in Turnhout,” says spokesperson Jason Sevestre. Lidl was also still struggling with blockages on Saturday afternoon.
(Read more below the photos)
At Colruyt, whose depots experienced enormous disruption this week, the entire logistics chain appears to have restarted. “We have extra people on the road and in the distribution centers to restock all stores. But that doesn’t happen immediately, of course. Some stores only receive their delivery in the late afternoon, while it was originally scheduled for this morning. This results in empty shelves here and there, but the good news is that we are busy filling them,” says spokesperson Silja Decock.
The fresh produce departments in particular were in many cases poor. “Fresh food is preferably delivered as fresh as possible. When problems arise, it is first visible in that department,” says several retailers. But dry food, drinks and toilet paper were also not available on shelves everywhere. “Our stores also experience the difficulty of effectively getting the products into stores. Saturday is traditionally a busy shopping day, so if you have to fill the store shelves at the same time, it causes difficulties.”
The retailers have had to negotiate with the farmers at their depots for a long time. It has now been agreed with the farmers that a task force will be set up. “The farmers’ anger is mainly aimed at European rules. And unfortunately there is little we can do to change that,” says Hans Cardyn of trade federation Comeos. “But next week we will sit down with the farmers and the competent minister Clarinval to see what we as a trade federation can do within the Belgian regulations. We want to listen to the bottlenecks and at the same time we also want to share what we see in consumer behavior and whether changes are possible.”