United Biscuits (UB), which owns the McVitie’s, Jacobs and Go Ahead brands, has admitted the flooding of its Carlisle factory has resulted in a nationwide shortage of its biscuits.
The factory was struck by floods in December as a result of Storm Desmond, which shut down production of all the biscuits produced there. The shortage has affected lines including McVitie’s Ginger Nuts and Carr’s Water Biscuits, as their production has yet to restart, and stocks of the lines are dwindling.
So far, only production of the McVitie’s Gold biscuit bar has resumed. Customers are now struggling to get hold of many other Carlisle-produced biscuits.
Responding to the suggestion that UB was running low on stock, John Eggleton, managing director at UB, said: "Yes, it’s not a rumour, it’s true."
He added: "We’ve got Carr’s being sold on Ebay, the last few packs.
"Everyone’s very sympathetic but it’s also very upsetting not to be able to make Ginger Nuts and other products but we’ll be back."
He added that the factory should be back up and running in a couple of months.
Ted Linehan, savoury biscuits marketing director, said: "It’s always hard work, we’ve been there for the best part of two centuries and we’ve got no intention of changing that."
Although flood defences had been put in place after a similar flood at the site in 2005, they proved unable to keep the flood water out and the company said it was planning better defences to keep the water out in the event of future floods. Despite this, Linehan said that the previous experience had taugh the company much and said: "We’ll get back up and running more quickly this time than the last time."
He added that UB had tried to source other products to fill the gap but that had not always been possible, in the case of Carr’s Water Biscuits due to the unique brick ovens at Carlisle which gave the product its distinctive characteristics.
In a statement, UB said: “Due to floods in Carlisle we are experiencing a shortage of a number of products under the McVitie’s, Jacob’s, Carr’s and Crawford’s brands. We apologise if consumers are finding it difficult to get hold of some of these products and we are working hard at our Carlisle site to resume normal service as soon as possible.”
The statement continued: “We currently have 400 United Biscuits employees, contractors and suppliers working back at our factory site supporting the clean-up process, the engineering rebuild of damaged equipment and resuming factory production is an absolute priority for us. Our trade customers are being kept informed of the progress of all affected products.”