Arla, which supplies milk to around 2,400 stores every day in the UK, said she was unable to deliver to 600 stores last Saturday due to the drop in the number of drivers.
Ash Amirahmadi, managing director of Arla UK, said the supplier has consistently struggled to deliver one in ten stores in recent weeks.
He told BBC Radio 4 Today program: “I think when you are not able to supply 10% of the stores that expect to receive milk every day, I think it is quite worrying for a customer walking into a store and not being able to to have milk – so we take that very seriously.
“We are trying to avoid a summer of disruption.
“We are seeing that the problem is getting worse and that is why our assessment is that we are in a driver shortage crisis, and therefore we are calling on industry and government to work together to recognize that we are in crisis and solve the problem.”
Arla said his third-party carriers had raised wages to attract drivers, while also offering a £ 2,000 signing bonus.
Tesco, the UK’s largest grocer, has announced a £ 1,000 membership bonus for new drivers who sign up before September to help tackle its shortages.
However, Mr Amirahmadi said there also needs to be a “structural solution” from the government, including improvements to Covid testing and temporary visa changes, to resolve the shortage in the short term.
“There is a backlog of testing for heavy truck drivers – we anticipate that around 30,000 drivers are waiting to be tested.
“We want the government to work with us to speed this up. And secondly, we believe that driving should be recognized as a skills shortage, and therefore, they should open temporary visas for the industry to bring European drivers back to the country. “
Earlier this month, Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps announced a consultation to ease driver qualification requirements as part of a package designed to address the issue.
He also announced a temporary extension of the working hours of truck drivers from 9 to 10 hours per day.
However, the Road Haulage Association, which said it believed there was a shortage of 100,000 drivers, said the easing was “sticky plaster.”