Fall in sterling’s value and fears of anti-migrant sentiment has put EU nationals, who make up 90% of jobs in sector, off applying for vacancies. The UK’s food industry is facing the worst labour shortage for at least 12 years as farmers, manufacturers and processors struggle to find enough workers to prepare for the Christmas rush.
The warning comes amid fears of a shortage of truck and van drivers to deliver goods to shops and homes.
David Camp of the Association of Labour Providers (ALP), whose employment agency members supply 70% of the temporary labour used by the food and drink industry in the UK, said responses to job ads had slumped as workers from the EU – who account for 90% of jobs in the sector – back away from the UK.
Response rates to the ALP’s biggest member’s job adverts are running at only 52% of the level of last year. Camp said that other members had seen responses fall by up to 70%, depending on the sector they were in and their location.