The head of Britain’s poultry industry body has called on the government to speed up workers as the sector faces severe disruptions that have forced restaurants like Nando’s and KFC to adjust or cancel their service.
Richard Griffiths, chief executive of the British Poultry Council, also blamed the post-Brexit worker shortage for the problems facing the industry.
Sky News understands that the group has contacted the Home Office on the matter, but has yet to receive a response.
“When you don’t have people, you have a problem, and this is something that we are seeing throughout the supply chain. The job crisis is a Brexit problem,” Griffiths said.
The problems had been widely reported in multiple sectors, he added.
The poultry industry is responsible for producing half of all the meat consumed in the UK. Currently, the industry is reporting job openings of more than 16%, Griffiths said.
“The alarming number of gaps only keeps growing due to a government continually acting against the best interests of British food producers,” he said.
Limiting the number of people from outside the UK who are allowed to work in the country, while repeatedly referring to industry workers as low-skilled, “put food businesses in jeopardy and made it difficult to access food quality British for the people in this country. ” . “
Griffiths said the British Poultry Council had asked the government to include workers in the poultry meat supply chain on the skilled worker list and on the shortage occupations list, while lowering unnecessary thresholds for wages and skills, in order to solve the labor shortage.
Separately, one of Britain’s largest poultry producers dismissed claims that the industry crisis was due to workers being told to isolate themselves after receiving a notification from the NHS Test app. & Trace.
An Avara Foods spokesperson said the company was not experiencing any significant inconvenience due to the so-called ‘pingdemic’.
“Our concern is recruiting and filling vacancies when the UK workforce has been severely depleted as a result of Brexit – this is causing stress on UK supply chains across multiple sectors,” the spokesperson said.
The company added that while the worker shortage due to the pandemic would be temporary, problems arising from changes after the UK left the EU would last much longer.
“We are monitoring the situation closely and implementing measures to mitigate the strain on our supply chain, but this can only go so far,” they said.
Nando’s says he plans to have all his restaurants open again starting Saturday after supply chain disruption forced 45 sites to close.
The peri-peri chicken brand, which operates around 400 outlets across the country, has also “paused delivery for now,” according to a message on its website.
Closures come after rival KFC revealed last week he was facing similar problems, warning that some items would not be available and that the packaging “may look a little different than normal.”