Scottish vegetable growers are having to throw away millions of heads of cauliflower and broccoli due to a shortage of farm workers and truck drivers.
Producers predict that labor shortage issues will only get worse as Christmas approaches.
The East of Scotland Growers (ESG), a cooperative of farmers in Fife, estimated that it had so far removed 3.5 million heads of broccoli and 1.9 million heads of cauliflower due to of the crisis.
ESG chief executive Andrew Faichney said he fears producers have not seen the end of the problems that are already crippling the industry.
He said, “We should have started our freezer production last weekend, but so far we haven’t frozen a single broccoli floret.
“The delay in freezing is the result of a lack of trucks to transport frozen products from freezer stores to retail depots.”
He continued, “With a shortage of trucks, retailers are prioritizing products with short shelf lives – the net result being that storage is now at full capacity and there is nowhere to store the products. processed. “
Not only is it difficult to find truck drivers to transport food to cold stores, but farms are struggling to find enough people to harvest the vegetables.
Mr Faichney said he works with around 80% of the required manpower on the farm, meaning staff are making extra money to work over time.
“The fear is that these workers will return home sooner than necessary because of reaching their financial goal,” he said.
“In fact, they are already starting to disappear from the farm, where historically we have relied on workers finishing the fruit season and migrating to field vegetables during the months of September and October. “
A Yougov survey found on Friday that 56% of shoppers experienced food shortages in supermarkets.
In the survey of 3,564 adults, shortages were most noticeable in Scotland, where 67% had difficulty filling their baskets, and in the south of England, where 57% had difficulty.
Scottish food and farm organizations sent a letter to the UK and Scottish governments this week calling for more action to tackle the jobs crisis ahead of the crucial Christmas season.
The letter said: ‘Brexit and the pandemic have accelerated existing pressures on labor availability.
“We have now reached a crisis point jeopardizing the growth, viability and security of many Scottish businesses, with negative repercussions for consumers. We must act now to save Christmas.
Richard Harrow, Managing Director of the British Frozen Food Federation, said: “Labor shortages along the food supply chain are creating a ‘perfect storm’ of rising costs for our members.
“Although the long-term solution is to train more British nationals, we will only avoid further food supply disruptions and inflationary cost increases by putting in place temporary visa measures.”
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This notice was published: 2021-09-06 14:21:41