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Labour shortages. Workers picking potatoes in a field, shot from above
Podcast / The Big Issues
Podcast / The Big Issues

How can the UK food sector solve its labour shortage?

What can be done to solve the growing problem of labour shortages in the UK food sector?

The Government’s Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee says chronic shortages could lead to further price rises and the UK becoming more dependent on food imports.

In fact, it says if nothing is done to address the issue, labour shortages will shrink the sector permanently.

It is a stark warning and we are already seeing the effects.

In recent months we have seen crops left to rot in the fields, tens-of-thousands of pigs incinerated or rendered due to a lack of workers at meat processing plants, and disruption to the food supply chain.

In this episode of the Food Matters Live podcast, we delve into the causes of the crisis, as well as looking at what some of the solutions may be.

How big a role are Brexit and Covid playing? Will higher salaries help to alleviate the problems? Is the Government doing enough to help the industry?

And what does the current situation mean for workers? There are more job opportunities available and more bargaining power when it comes to negotiating pay, but other questions remain.

If more people within the industry are moving on to better-paid jobs, who is filling the roles they leave behind?

What is to be done about staff wellbeing as they work more hours to cover gaps in the rota? One trade body quoted is quoted in the committee’s report as saying: “I have never known morale in the industry so low.”

Listen to the full episode for some views on what can be done to relieve some of the pressure in the short, medium, and long term.

Meet the guests

David Camp, Chief Executive, the Association of Labour Providers

The Association of Labour Providers is a not-for-profit trade association promoting responsible recruitment and good practice for organisations that supply the workforce to the consumer goods supply chain across the food processing, horticultural and wider manufacturing, industrial, warehousing and distribution sectors. 

The ALP’s 375 labour provider members supply approximately 70% of the temporary contingent workforce into the food growing and manufacturing supply chain.

Jonathan Kittow, Director, Simply Supply Chain

Jonathan is a consumer-focused management consultant and collaborator with over 25 years’ experience in Consumer Goods and Retail sectors – Director of Simply Supply Chain and Chairman of the FMCG focused supply chain networking groups: Customer Supply Group and Drop and Drive Supply Group.

Jonathan’s expertise lies in managing the relationships between sales, marketing and supply chain within blue chip manufacturing and retail clients to improve on-shelf availability and eliminate waste to reduce the end-to-end cost. 

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