The shortage of food and drinks could be a “permanent” fixture according to an industry chief - and Worcester’s independent businesses are already feeling the effects.

Ian Wright, outgoing chief executive of the Food and Drink Federation, has warned the ongoing supply issues could become commonplace after the pandemic.

He added that the industry is currently short of about half a million workers.

Mr Wright said: "It’s going to get worse - and it’s not going to get better after getting worse any time soon.”

“The result of the labour shortages is that the just in time system that has sustained supermarkets, convenience stores and restaurants… is no longer working, and I don’t think it will work again.

"I think we will see we’re now in for permanent shortages.”

High street chains such as Nandos and Mcdonalds have both suffered from supply and staff shortages, but Worcester’s independents are also feeling the effects.

Rosie Willmott, front of house manager at Chesters on New Street, said: “We have certainly seen a shortage of staff over the summer months, meaning we have had to turn away custom and at times even shut the restaurant when staff have been unavailable.”

Ms Willmott added that as university students return to the city, they have seen an increase in applications.

“I'm optimistic that this will be a short-term issue. We are hoping this is the beginning of the end of a summer of shortage!”

Alex Tumminelli, head chef at Sugo on The Tything, said: “The hardest part is now the short staff. There are no chefs around looking for a job, and if there are, all of them are without any experience.

“I don't know if things are going to change, I hope so because the furlough from Government will end soon.

“We need normality, and we need staff that want to learn, improve, and help us to make customers happy at all the time, because this is our job, and this is what make us proud to work in hospitality.”

Nicky Riley from Three Bears Bakery said: “It is definitely becoming increasingly difficult to get hold of items.

“I’m hopeful it won’t be a long-term issue but as it’s not 100 per cent clear what is causing the issues. It’s impossible to be sure.”