UK food producers push PM to grant 12-month visas to solve supply problems

Companies from across the UK’s food chain are calling on the UK Government to grant thousands of extra one-off visas to solve Brexit-induced supply chain problems that now threaten to ruin Christmas.

Companies and lobby groups representing food production companies from paddock to payment counter want a 12-month visa to be created for HGV drivers and other critical roles that have seen a labour supply crunch.

Everything from shortages of Nando’s chicken, to Arla milk products to McDonald’s milkshakes have come off menus and supermarket shelves as the industry is forced to hike wages to retain driving staff and fulfill orders.

A report compiled by Grant Thorton on behalf of organisations including the National Farmers Union, the Food and Drink Federation, the Road Haulage Association, Dairy UK and more was sent to ministers today pleading for a stop-gap visa to help solve the supply chain issue.

The combined effect of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic prompted many EU nationals working in logistics and haulage to leave the UK and not come back.

The report found an average vacancy rate of 13 per cent across the UK food chain industries and more than 500,000 unfilled vacancies across food and drink businesses.

Tom Bradshaw from the NFU warned that wage rises would not be enough to solve the labour supply crunch.

“Farm businesses have done all they can to recruit staff domestically, but even increasingly competitive wages have had little impact because the labour pool is so limited – instead only adding to growing production costs,” he said.