A potential Haribo sweets shortage in the UK is leaving kids and grown-ups everywhere seriously stressed.
News has emerged overnight that complicated logistical factors could jeopardise the supply of everyone's favourite soft gummy sweets.
However, beyond the doom and gloom, there's actually more to this story than meets the eye. Here, we take a closer look at what's going on with the Haribo sweets shortage and why it might be a sign of wider problems for the food industry.
Is there a Haribo sweets shortage in the UK?
German-based confectioner Haribo recently confirmed that it was experiencing major difficulties transporting products into the UK, resulting in a potential shortage i.
In a media statement, the brand admitted it was "experiencing challenges", adding: "As is the case with many manufacturers and retailers throughout the country, we are experiencing challenges with regards to the nationwide driver shortage.
"We are working with partners across the food and drink industry to address and respond to this problem."
This means that there is a very real possibility that shoppers across the country will be unable to enjoy their favourite treats.
No wonder that everyone's at panic stations.
What is causing the Haribo sweets shortage in the UK?
As outlined in its media statement, the main cause of the Haribo sweets shortage is a lack of haulage drivers. However, there's much more to the situation than simply an absence of personnel.
In essence, Haribo is facing a perfect storm of difficult circumstances. On the one hand, the pandemic is making international transportation exponentially more complicated.
On the other, Haribo has to also contend with the economic and legislative minefield that is Brexit.
Individually, both these situations would present a sizeable obstacle to shipping sweeties. Together, they represent a tangible risk to Haribo fans across the UK.
According to the BBC, both Brexit and the pandemic have led to a shortfall of about 60,000 HGV drivers. The report also estimates that around 30,000 fewer HGV driving tests have taken place this year, contributing to the crisis.
Many of the experienced European drivers that elected to stay in the country post-Brexit have now left the UK as a result of the pandemic.
As Kate Shoesmith, deputy chief executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, explained to the broadcaster: "They have either sourced work in their home countries or they feel it's not right to return to the UK, either because of Brexit or the pandemic."
In truth, whether Brexit or the pandemic is more to blame is materially irrelevant. The result is bad news for Haribo sweets fans across the UK.
What sweets will be affected?
The situation is affecting the entire Haribo portfolio, including Tangfastics and Golden Bears.
But the reality is that countless other businesses across the continent are facing similar problems.
The government has stressed that it is working to resolve the situation. In a statement, a government spokesperson said: "We're working with industry and have already taken action on HGV driver shortages, including ramping up vocational test capacity, and funding apprenticeships.
"However, most of the solutions are likely to be driven by industry, with progress already being made in testing and hiring, and a big push towards improving pay, working conditions and diversity."
It remains to be seen whether this action can make any material difference to the Haribo sweets shortage.
When will it affect shops?
It remains unclear when shops will begin to feel the Haribo shortage pinch. However, as businesses across all sectors struggle with a new economic reality, several major retailers are already under pressure.
For instance, Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, recently said: "Retailers are aware of a fall in HGV driver numbers, resulting in minor disruption to some supply chains.
"Supermarkets are working closely with their suppliers to ensure that consumers still have access to the same great selection of goods.
"Government must rapidly increase the number of HGV driving tests taking place while also looking for a longer-term solution to this issue."
This doesn't give us any indication of a timeline for the Haribo shortage. However, it does suggest that there are potential problems incoming all across the food and drink industry.
Will I still be able to buy Haribo sweets online?
Considering the obstacles to shipping currently in place, it's unclear whether we will still be able to buy Haribo online during the shortage. However, there are a couple of factors that could give people reasons to be positive.
For starters, the haulage situation seems to mostly be affecting heavy goods and lorries. This suggests that smaller shipments could face less obstruction, although there may well still be issues.
Secondly, there are currently several online retailers selling the sweets, giving you plenty of options for stocking up.
Admittedly, these alternatives are typically much more expensive than your local shop. Still, it's good to know that there are options if the situation gets even worse.