The food supply crisis that has led to the closure of Nando’s outlets in Britain could cause more restaurants to close in the coming weeks, industry bosses warned.
Sector chiefs said The independent Brexit was to blame for the nation’s supply chain woes as the industry struggles to cope with production workers returning home to the EU and a drastic lack of capable truck drivers coming to the UK. .
Nick Allen, executive director of the British Association of Meat Processors, said the industry was struggling to bring many product lines to supermarkets and restaurants, with the UK meat production workforce dwindled by as much as 20 percent. .
“The supply issues stem from the underlying labor issues that occur since Brexit … It’s certainly related to Brexit, but it’s also the immigration decisions our politicians are making since Brexit,” Allen said. The independent.
He added: “Nando’s is the tip of the iceberg. I think we’ll see more and more [closures]. Some people are still trying to open their restaurants, but they struggle to get staff and deliveries. “
Richard Griffiths, chief executive of the British Poultry Council, blamed Brexit for the worker shortage in poultry production and the impact on supply. “The jobs crisis is a Brexit problem,” Griffiths said Thursday.
The British Poultry Council and the British Meat Processors Association have called for their production workers to be allowed on the government’s shortage list of occupations so that more workers can come from abroad.
Allen urged ministers to consider a temporary visa for foreign food industry workers for next year. “As an emergency measure, we would like to see some kind of low-skilled visa temporarily established, because we simply cannot get enough staff right now,” said the head of the meat industry.
He added: “The whole food industry is fighting for people, fundamentally it would be great if the government spoke to us about solutions.”
UK Hospitality CEO Kate Nicholls said the country’s restaurants face “enormous challenges to their supply chains” right now as they struggle to get up and running again after the Covid shutdowns.
She said The independent: “About two-thirds of hotel companies say that some products just don’t make it. This has the impact of reducing the menu they can offer to customers and affecting sales. “
Nic Wood, owner of Signature Group of restaurants, which operates 21 locations in Edinburgh and Glasgow, said his firm “cannot get enough staff to open our locations at full capacity or hours.”
The restaurateur said that “understaffing and supply chain complications” were jeopardizing the momentum to return to pre-Covid business levels. “We need a visa plan to fill the job gap that has emerged since Brexit.”
One of Britain’s largest poultry producers dismissed claims that the supply crisis was due to the recent Covid “pingdemic”, forcing some employees to isolate themselves. An Avara Foods spokesperson said: “Our concern is recruiting and filling vacancies when the UK workforce has been severely depleted as a result of Brexit.”
Professor Tim Lang, from the Center for Food Policy at the City University of London, also pointed to the continuing consequences of Brexit. “Now we see Brexit starting to work,” he told BBC Radio 4. World in one.
“We are seeing here the reality of people voting to leave the EU on which we depended for all kinds of migrant labor in the food sector,” he said. “Whether it’s sandwiches, chicken, retail or the hospitality industry, we are seeing tensions and tensions everywhere.”
One of the largest vegetable producers in the country, supplying the main supermarket chains, he said The independent It was having to throw away some food due to lack of carriers.
Jack Pearce, development manager for Alfred G Pearce in Norfolk, said: “There is such a shortage that we are dealing with delays of several days, which means fresh food is out of date and coming back to us for disposal.”
The family business, which grows and processes vegetables, is struggling with its own labor shortage as its workforce has shrunk 20-30% since Brexit after many EU employees returned home. .
“There is some arrogance on the part of the government about hiring British workers, but they are just not there at the moment,” Pearce said. “We need some realism in the short term to reopen visas to the EU.”
Earlier this month it emerged that the British Army had been put on standby to help deliver supplies to supermarkets to help the nation cope with a shortage of around 100,000 truckers.
The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has blamed Brexit and all canceled driving tests during the pandemic for the crisis. Around 15,000 drivers from the EU returned home after Brexit, according to the RHA.
The group has asked the government to include heavy vehicle drivers on the list of shortage occupations, allowing them to obtain a work visa. “We need to be on that list, but we are not on it,” said an RHA spokesman.
As shoppers continue to see many supermarket shelves left empty, British pubs have also been hit by beer shortages in recent days. The Rising Sun in Rochester, Kent, is one of several that has warned customers about a shortage of certain beers due to delivery problems.
A spokesman for the Greene King bar chain said it was “having an impact on the entire industry.” Emma McClarkin, Executive Director of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: “Our industry feels the HGV driver shortage like so many others.”
He called on the government to address the issue “urgently to address the driver shortage in the immediate term; adding heavy vehicle drivers to the shortage occupations list would go a long way towards stabilizing the current situation.”
The Food and Drink Federation (FDA) has warned that Brexit could cause further supply problems in October, when new border controls are introduced for Britain that will apply to EU imports.
“The government will need to provide more clarity in a number of areas before then to ensure that EU suppliers and UK importers have the best chance of being prepared to meet the new requirements,” said a spokesman for the FDA.
A government spokesman said it was working closely with the food sector “to ensure that companies have the workforce they need,” adding: “We are looking for ways to help the sector hire more domestic labor and invest in automation to reduce dependency on migrant workers. “