Turkey shortages: Meat industry forced to go 'cold turkey' without EU labour

3 October 2021, 11:58

Swarbrick speaks to Nick Allen about turkey shortages

By Elizabeth Haigh

A leading meat industry boss has told LBC that the government is forcing the industry to "go cold turkey" without EU labour.

Nick Allen, CEO of the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA), told Swarbrick on Sunday that turkey farmers "will be short of supply" this Christmas due to a lack of labour from the EU.

He said that although government measures such as the 5,500 extra visas for poultry workers "will help", it is still going to be "touch and go".

He told Tom most workers will not arrive until November.

"It's going to be a tight run thing," he said.

"Turkey suppliers are still going to be under pressure despite what the government has done."

Asked why the visas would not solve the problem, Mr Allen explained that farmers were unable to rear as many turkeys this year due to the labour shortage, and it is now too late to rear more in time for Christmas.

Read more: Fuel shortages remain a 'major problem' in London and South East, Tory chair tells LBC

Supply chain pressures 'a global phenomenon'

"Farmers haven't known whether they're going to be able to get a labour supply or not, they have not actually put the turkeys into the system in the first place.

"The government only made this announcement last week. A lot of turkeys should have been on the farm a long time ago, you can't suddenly just conjure them up."

Read more: Tory MP calls on retired HGV drivers to return to work to save Christmas

Read more: Army of 10,000 foreign workers asked to save Christmas from shortages crisis

Mr Allen told Tom that the BMPA had warned the government of the "impending problem" of labour shortages 18 months ago.

According to Mr Allen, the Migration Advisory Commission recommend to the government that butchers be put on the shortage occupation list to help ease labour shortages, but the Home Office declined to implement those recommendations.

Caller: We need a law preventing info which could cause panic-buying.

He said: "We've spent 40 years developing a system that has given us access to 500 million people in Europe. Now they've shut the door."

"They've almost made us go cold turkey on this."

Asked whether the UK could not fill the labour gap itself, Mr Allen said that is a long term solution and cannot happen quickly enough for Christmas.

"You cannot just suddenly switch on a new labour supply from this country. It's just not there."

He concluded: "The government needs to look at this over a longer term."

More Tom Swarbrick

See more More Tom Swarbrick

UK should prepare for 'something close to war', Nato's deputy tells LBC, amid warning members have 'neglected defence'

UK should prepare for 'something close to war', Nato's Deputy General tells LBC, as he warns Russia 'cannot be trusted'

Emma Webber (left) speaking to LBC

Mother of Nottingham attack victim Barnaby Webber blasts police ‘mistruths’ after force is put in special measures

Lord Harrington said there should be a cap on the number of asylum seekers the UK takes.

Former refugees minister Lord Harrington calls for a cap on the number of asylum seekers the UK takes

Mel Stride has backed the PM

Rishi Sunak has 'absolutely not' betrayed nation over Rwanda plan, insists minister after Braverman's attack on PM

Tom and caller

'Our family is there': Mother shares heartbreaking experience of being a British Jew during Israel-Hamas conflict

The ban will be brought into effect in months

'Children should be in the classroom to learn': Gillian Keegan orders 'blanket ban' of mobile phones in schools

Tributes have been paid to Elianne after she was stabbed to death in Croydon

Fellow pupil of schoolgirl stabbed to death in Croydon describes heartbreaking moment students were told of her killing

Scotland's first safe drug consumption space set to be openned

'Isn't this just decriminalising heroin?': Tom Swarbrick questions Labour MSP over first safe drug consumption room

The education secretary discusses educational reforms with Tom Swarbrick

Shadow education secretary says 'Building Schools for the Future Programme' would have prevented Raac crisis

Tom Swabrick

'Is it not completely mental?': Tom Swarbrick astonished as schools shut due to crumble-risk concrete before new term

Exam results

Equation sheets given to GCSE cohort in attempt lessen reduced grade inflation blow, schools minister says

Crime commentator on Adam Provan

Internal review of rapist ex-Met officer is the equivalent of 'marking your own homework', says crime commentator

Education Secretary discuss new Eton free schools on LBC

‘Bailed out by Eton’: Education Secretary discusses new free schools with Tom Swarbrick

Lucy Letby: We have to know what went so 'catastrophically wrong' says Tom Swarbrick

Lucy Letby: We have to know what went so 'catastrophically wrong' says Tom Swarbrick

Lord Edward Garnier has called for a public inquiry into Andrew Malkinson's case

Top lawyer blasts Andrew Malkinson rape case as the 'worst miscarriage of justice of the 21st century'

Suella Barge

Suella Braverman can't be blamed for housing migrants on barge with Legionella, ConservativeHome editor says