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UK warehouses could reach full cold storage capacity within three weeks

27 April 2020

The world’s biggest cold storage supplier reports that its UK warehouses could soon run out of space due to stalling restaurant demand.

According to Reuters, because of coronavirus lockdowns and the closures in much of the catering and restaurant sector, many UK cold storage facilities are approaching maximum capacity.

Mike McClendon, president of international operations for Lineage Logistics, said its 15 facilities in the UK are more than 90 percent full.

"In three to five weeks you could see the overflowing of frozen and chilled volumes at our facilities. We have concerns right now that volumes need to continue to flow," he told Reuters.

McClendon did not elaborate on what would happen if 100 percent capacity was reached. However, the impact is expected to be felt by producers, who would either need to cut production or dump excess stock that cannot be stored in the warehouses.

This is the latest flurry of business for Lineage Logistics after its warehouses filled up last year with food stocks amid fears of shortages ahead of Britain's exit from the European Union, with capacity exceeding 90 percent again.

After the December election of Boris Johnson, when after years of uncertainty it became clear that Britain would leave the EU trading bloc, as it did on 31 January, capacity dropped to 85 percent, which the company said is a more normal level.

In late February, stocks started rising again and pushed capacity to over 95 percent, it said.

Now with the UK in an extended lockdown imposed to rein in the spread of the coronavirus, suppliers of fresh meat and vegetables for restaurants are accumulating stocks because they have no avenues to sell them, McClendon said.

"[We see] stocks piling up ... and while in the initial weeks of coronavirus, outbound volumes of frozen veggies and frozen meals were rising, now you are seeing inbound volumes exceed outbound volumes," said McClendon.

Capacities are tight in the Benelux region and elsewhere in continental Europe, he said, but conditions in the United Kingdom were most dire.

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