UK workforce situation deteriorates
The lack of personnel on meat processing lines is getting worse in the UK, as EU workers have left the country after Brexit and the fourth wave of COVID-19 is impacting the workforce in the meat industry. According to Nick Allen, CEO of the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA), between five and ten percent of the workforce have been 'pinged' by the Covid app and asked to self-isolate. "This is on top of the desperate shortage of workers that the industry is already suffering. As a result, companies are having to simplify down their range of products to compensate for key skills being removed from their production lines," he commented on a BBC Radio 4 interview.
The situation is threatening the industry's existence as some of the skilled workers needed to secure production in the field have not yet been included on the Shortage Occupation List.
"If the UK workforce situation deteriorates further, companies will be forced to start shutting down production lines all together," added Mr Allen. The BMPA represents about 90% of the industry by value of production.
The first products to be hit could be the cuts that require more work from skilled butchers, such as French-trimmed lamb chops with the fat removed, according to Mr. Allen.
These are also among the most profitable lines for processors, so the financial impact could be significant. "It's for this reason that we've been calling on the Government for months to add butchers to the Shortage Occupation List, which would allow the industry to temporarily fill these growing vacancies with overseas workers until the current crisis has passed," concluded BMPA's CEO.
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