Pigs in blankets could be off the menu at Xmas as Brexit hits food production

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Pigs in blankets could be off the menu this Christmas – because there aren’t enough staff to make them.

British pork production has been roasted by a lack of European workers in the UK – which could stuff our chances of enjoying bacon-wrapped bangers on December 25.

Brexit and the pandemic have slashed the workforce so much that there may be a shortage of UK pork.

"Things like pigs in blankets, you start making them now," said Nick Allen of the British Meat Producers Association.

"If our guys can’t supply the market, retailers will look abroad."

Nick fears that supermarkets will be forced to turn their backs on UK meat – meaning our festive favourites will contain foreign substitutes.

Covid and Brexit travel curbs could cost the industry thousands of Eastern European workers, who previously made up about 70% of the industry’s UK-based workforce.

EU citizens already working here can apply to keep doing so – but the cut-off for applications is June 30.

Richard Griffiths of the British Poultry Council said a shortage would also hit turkey, and warned of "a two-tier food system where only the affluent can afford high-quality British produce".

It’s not just meat. Fruit and veg farmers say they are ‘on the brink’ after Brexit has put a huge dent in the number of available seasonal workers.

Applications for crop-picking work at one Kent-based company are reportedly down 90% over the last two years and farmers fears for the future.

Stephen Taylor, managing director of Winterwood Farms Ltd, told the Metro: "95% of all fruit and produce picked and packaged in this country is done by eastern Europeans.

"From the end of June, people who haven’t got pre-settled status, at least, can’t work," he added.

He said the new rules could mean "hundreds of thousands" of workers would be lost

While there are unemployed Brits who could potentially pick up some of the shortfall, most of them are not flexible enough to fill the "huge hole" in the UK’s farming industry, according to Mr Taylor.

"If we want the Brits to do that work they need to be mobile," he said.

  • Brexit
  • Christmas

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