Warning over Christmas pigs in blankets shortage due to post-Brexit supply problems

25 August 2021, 10:11 | Updated: 25 August 2021, 10:24

The warning comes for a second year
The warning comes for a second year. Picture: Alamy
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Meat bosses have warned pigs in blankets and other festive favourites could be off the menu this Christmas due to a shortage of EU workers.

The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA), which represents the British meat processing industry, has warned that treats such as pigs in blankets could be hard to come by because of a lack of skilled staff, as industry labour shortages continue to bite.

The BMPA has said between 65% and 80% of meat plant workers come from the EU, with the industry "heavily reliant on EU workers for about 15 years."

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Meanwhile, the boss of supermarket Iceland has called on the government to help solve a shortfall in lorry drivers which has contributed to product shortages across the UK.

Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, Iceland director Richard Walker said HGV drivers should be added to the list of "skilled workers" to help prevent a "second crap Christmas."

Mr Walker said his stores have "robust supply lines" in place, adding that "people don't need to panic."

But, he said he wanted to "sound the alarm loud and clear," adding retailers had many goods to transport between now and Christmas.

It comes as the British Retail Consortium said the UK faces a shortfall of 90,000 HGV drivers.

The BMPA have blamed the government's immigration policies for staffing challenges faced by many companies.

the body's chief executive Nick Allen said his members are around 12%-13% short on staff, with one company missing about a fifth of its workforce.

"Some of the pig processors are having to cut down on how many pigs they are processing a week so that's starting to have an impact back on the farm.

"We are cutting back and prioritising lines and cutting out on things, so there just won't be the totals of Christmas favourites like we are used to."

He said usual demand for pigs in blankets - sausages wrapped in bacon - reaches about 40 million packets, but a shortage of labour to make them could mean production is cut by a third.

Supplies of gammon could also be affected, he added.