(Update) Farmers’ protests are causing chaos in the Netherlands on Monday and Tuesday, not least among supermarket chains. Angry farmers block distribution centres all over the country.
Supermarkets are first targets
In the Netherlands, farmers are holding a large-scale protest action against government plans to reduce nitrogen emissions. According to cattle farmers, the measure would mean fewer cows for them to keep. Tractors were on the road early Monday morning blocking strategic locations. Their first targets: supermarket distribution centres.
Despite retailers stressing that they have nothing to do with the nitrogen policy, dozens of distribution centres are currently blocked all over the country. Moreover, farmers did not deliver fresh products such as fruit and vegetables. As a result, consumers will feel the consequences in the supermarkets as early as Monday, the Dutch national food trade office CBL warned according to news channel NOS.
Over half of all DCs cut off
Jumbo’s central DC and head office in Veghel was among the first to be affected. Although the police came to lift the blockade and issued fines, five out of six distribution centres are still blocked. At market leader Albert Heijn, two out of six distribution centres were still inoperable due to the protests by late afternoon.
At Lidl, access is denied to half of Dutch depots and competitor Aldi claims to suffer from blockades in two out eight warehouses. Somewhat ironically, at Vomar the staff blocked the farmers in a counter demonstration. They made sure that the tractors could not leave, even though the farmers laconically responded they had no intention of leaving anyway. As a result, the local grocer’s sole distribution centre remains completely cut off.
“Days of blockades” announced
Farmers declare that they will stay put until the nitrogen policy is reversed. They are already threatening to blockade for days.
On Tuesday afternoon however, the majority of the blockades appear to have been lifted, following intervention by the forces of order. Albert Heijn, Jumbo, Aldi and Lidl, among others, can deliver to their stores again. However, in a few places the protest is still going on, such as at Boni in Nijkerk. In the supermarkets, the actions have led to empty shelves, especially in the fresh food departments. According to CBL, the damage runs into tens of millions of euros as a result of missed sales and spoilt fresh products in the distribution centres.