The UK's largest supermarket privately told the government it is concerned about panic buying in the run-up to Christmas due to the UK's shortage of HGV drivers, ITV News has revealed.
In a meeting organised by the Cabinet Office last Thursday, Tesco revealed it has a shortfall of 800 lorry drivers and asked the government to temporarily make it easier to bring in workers from abroad.
However, on Wednesday, Tesco chairman John Allan downplayed the worries.
Tesco chairman John Allan said Christmas is unlikely to be "horrendous"
"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," he told ITV's Peston show.
"I think we will get through without too much damage."
Tesco has been offering new recruits bonuses of £1,000 since July, but Andrew Woolfenden, the supermarket’s UK distribution and fulfilment director, said Tesco has only managed to attract as many drivers as it has lost to rival businesses over the summer.
Mr Allan said that alongside recruitment efforts, Tesco has been getting round the labour shortage by transporting goods by rail.
He also denied that social media pictures of bare shelves were unique to Tesco.
He said: "I go round a lot of my competitors' stores - I could show you pictures of my competition, but they wouldn't be representative at all, I think it's been overdramatised."
Alongside Tesco, Amazon has also raised concerns about lorry driver shortages in the run up to Christmas.
The online giant, which employs drivers via third party contractors, has raised hourly pay but is struggling to fill vacancies in South Yorkshire and South West England in particular.McDonald's told the government that it has lost drivers to Amazon and has found it hard to replace them.
Beth Hart, the fast-food chain’s Vice President of Supply Chain, said deliveries had been disrupted and that shortages of ingredients had impacted menus and forced some of its 1,300 UK sites to close early.