Claims that the UK supply chain is “in danger of collapsing” as a result of delivery failures and delays caused by migrants attempting to stow away in vehicles passing through Calais are “an exaggeration”, according to the Food Storage & Distribution Federation (FSDF).

The claim was made by the FTA  amid calls for the UK government to bring more pressure to bear on French authorities to deal with the migrant problem in northern France.

But FSDF chief executive Chris Sturman told this week the FTA claim should be taken “somewhat as an exaggeration”.

“According to our members, whatever impact there is is relatively small and localised and relates to specific consignments,” he said. “It’s a bit of a thorn in the flesh, rather than a major artery being cut.”

The FSDF has estimated, however, that stowaways in trucks have led to over £15m worth of goods-in-transit insurance claims in the last 12 months as a result of spoiled loads, a figure Sturman said was “significantly more” than in previous years.

Sturman has also agreed with recent calls for more to be done by the French authorities, suggesting they “do need to adopt a more proactive approach to managing and maintaining the flows of vehicles and creating substantially greater barriers to prevent prospective stowaways from mounting or entering stationary and slow-moving vehicles”.

“There is also a need for a small minority of vehicle owners and operators to adopt and rigorously apply the Civil Penalty Accreditation Scheme, to ensure drivers fully understand and comply with the need to effectively seal and securely lock their vehicles to prevent intrusion,” he added.

Time-critical delivery firm C4 Logistics also sounded a note of caution over the FTA’s claim about  a collapsing supply chain.

MD Sebastien Barth said this week that although the immigration issue was a major threat, there was “more than can be done at a practical level to reduce the risks of people getting onto vehicles”.

“It is as much our responsibility as the UK government’s,” he added. “We have no choice but to be practical and do more ourselves to protect our businesses and consignments.”