Warning over pigs in blanket and gammon shortage this Christmas due to the supply crisis
CHRISTMAS dinner favourites such as pigs in blankets and gammon could be under threat due to staff shortages in processing plants and farms.
Farmers would usually be getting pigs prepared for festive season orders now but a lack of staff due to Covid and Brexit has caused a production backlog.More staff are needed to get pig meat ready for Christmas[/caption]
It comes amid supply chain delays as hauliers warn of a shortfall of around 100,000 drivers to supply food to supermarkets and restaurants.
Supermarket bosses have told the Press Association that the extra costs of hiring more drivers could mean higher prices for shoppers.
Now the National Pig Association (NPA) is warning that farms are struggling to find staff due to stricter rules on European Union workers coming to the UK, furlough, the expansion of jobs in other sectors and the ‘pingdemic.’
Zoe Davies, chief executive of the NPA, said a lack of staff means there is a surplus of 70,000 pigs on farms across the UK and could lead to shortages on supermarket shelves, particuarly in the run-up to Christmas.
She told The Sun: “There is a huge concern about pigs in blankets and gammon availability for Christmas.
“This is the time the processors would normally be laying down stock for the festive season and storing it.
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“But they are not doing that as they are simply trying to cope with existing orders.”
She said retailers may end up using EU suppliers instead, despite promises that Brexit would be a boost for British farmers.
The NPA has called for the government to allow double vaccinated processing and pig farm staff to be exempt from self-isolation rules as long as they have negative Covid tests.
The trade body wants access to EU seasonal workers and for meat processors and butchers to be added to the shortage occupation list.
The NPA has also warned that food prices will rise as a result of the labour shortages but said it would be up to retailers if they pass that on to shoppers.
Supermarket aisles have been left bare in recent weeks.
Shortages have been blamed on a range of factors such as supermarket staff having to self-isolate and a shortage of delivery drivers due to a combination of the pandemic, people retiring and Brexit restrictions.
Supermarkets such as Tesco, Asda and Marks & Spencer are offering £1,000 bonuses to new HGV drivers.
But the Road Haulage Association (RHA) has told the PA news agency the “substantial” pay rises offered by firms in need of new drivers could force supermarket bosses to pass the costs on to customers.
Rod McKenzie, managing director of policy and public affairs at the RHA, said: “Certainly drivers’ pay is increasing, often by quite substantial amounts.
“This is a cost that will need to be passed on, and given the tight profit margins of most haulage operators that means their rates to customers will have to go up.
“This may mean more of us paying higher prices for goods, services and shopping – including food prices.”
One unnamed supermarket boss also told PA that increasing wages for drivers will result in inflationary pressure for retailers.
The supply chain crisis is also hitting restaurants and takeaways.
McDonald’s customers have been left frustrated as delivery delays have caused a shortage of milkshakes and bottled drinks.
Hungry customers have also spotted empty sandwich shelves at Greggs and warnings about ingredient shortages at Subway.
Nando’s faced a chicken shortage earlier this month and was forced to close 50 restaurants, while KFC has warned its fast food fans that some menu items would be unavailable following “weeks of disruption”.
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