Due to a shortage in butchers, British cattle farmers are being forced into exporting carcasses to the EU to be processed.
Nick Allen, chief executive officer of the British Meat Processors Association said that beef producers were shipping supplies by ferry to Ireland for cutting and packing them before reimporting them into the UK.
This will cost around £1,500 for each lorry load when transport fees and Brexit customs requirements – such as export health certifications – are taken into account.
The Netherlands will also see millions of pig carcasses shipped to pork farmers. They will be prepared in the same way. This method of producing meat cannot be classified as British pork for sale in the UK.
Pork farmers are expected to begin shipping millions of pig carcasses into the Netherlands to be prepared using a similar process.
These developments are further evidence of the crisis facing this industry after hundreds of butchers fled the country because of the pandemic and Brexit.
“Due to the shortage in meat workers in the UK, and the limitations to recruiting caused by the immigration policies, processors are taking advantage the fact that other countries are sourcing additional labour from around the globe and exporting meat for processing and return to this country,” Mr Allen stated.
He stated that while it comes at an additional cost, it is better than empty shelves and animals growing on the farms.
He said that there is a 15% staff shortage in many UK meat plants. This could even rise to 20% in some cases.
He said that 15,000 vacancies are needed in the UK beef industry, with most of them skilled or semi-skilled.
The British government granted 800 temporary visas to butchers last month. However, the government has not yet disclosed how many applications were received.
According to the National Pig Association, more than 10,000 healthy pigs had to be killed due to a backlog of farms.
Chief executive Zoe Davies: “This isn’t excess supply. Farmers were contracted to grow these pork pigs. But the facilities are taking a quarter more than they agreed to because they don’t have the butchers.
“The government must help now because processors have tried very hard lately to recruit, and wages have gone up exponentially in the last few months. Most people in the UK don’t want to work in abattoirs, and it doesn’t really matter how much you pay them.
Farmers are prohibited from selling their meat and can only kill their animals for food on the farm.
Nick Allen, chief executive officer of the British Meat Processors Association said that beef producers were shipping supplies by ferry to Ireland for cutting and packing them before reimporting them into the UK
It comes after MPs warned that supermarkets would be short of home-produced turkeys this Christmas, and that they would have to import from France and Poland.
Leaders in the farm industry said that the warning was a sign of a wider crisis within the food supply chain, a result of a chronic shortage.
Because they knew that there would not be enough workers to handle the chicks, turkey farmers in the nation decided to reduce their numbers.
According to farmers’ leaders, the shortage of labour is a disaster for British food production. This means that large quantities of fresh produce are going to waste.
Farm industry leaders presented the doomsday scenario in evidence to a inquiry by MPs on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee into the effects of labour shortages.
Graeme Dear is the Chairman of British Poultry Council. He stated that there is a ‘likelihood’ there will be a shortage UK-produced turkeys in time for Christmas. This year, around 20 percent fewer birds were raised on British farms.
Although the Government announced recently that 5,500 workers at poultry plants would be granted short-term visas, it was too late for turkey production.
Mr Dear stated that he would have loved to know about it in June and could have placed enough turkeys to make a Christmas complete.
“We will do everything we can to make Christmas as normal as possible, but there is a chance that there will not be enough – had that been known in June or Jul, it would have been fixed.
“The irony of it all is that we may have to import turkey from France or Poland for a British holiday, possibly with some workers we trained and sent back to their homelands.”