Food firms warn of panic-buying this Christmas

Food firms warn of panic-buying this Christmas

Food industry bodies have warned of panic-buying this Christmas unless action is taken to address labour shortages.

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) called for an emergency visa to allow firms to recruit from outside the UK.

UK farmers, hauliers and shops have been struggling with shortages that have been made worse by Covid and Brexit.

The government said that the UK has a “highly resilient food supply chain”.

The head of the NFU, Minette Batters, wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday warning that the food and farming sector is on a “knife edge” due to a shortage of workers across the entire supply chain.

The letter, signed on behalf of a number of food and drink trade bodies, urged the government to introduce a Covid-19 recovery visa to open up new recruitment opportunities as a matter of urgency.

“Without it, more shelves will go empty and consumers will panic buy to try to get through the winter,” Ms Batters wrote.

“That is why we must have an urgent commitment from you to enable the industry to recruit from outside the UK over the next 12 months to get us through the winter and to help us save Christmas.”

She said it is “a travesty that this is happening in parallel with UK food producers disposing of perfectly edible food as it either cannot be picked, packed, processed or transported to the end customer”.

“Every day there are new examples of food waste across the industry, from chicken to pork, fruit and vegetables, dairy and many other products. The food is there, but it needs people to get it to the consumers,” Ms Batters said.

The letter was signed on behalf of other groups such as the British Frozen Food Federation, the British Meat Processors Association, Dairy UK and the Food and Drink Federation.

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