Shortage in Turkey: Meat industry forced to switch to ‘cold turkey’ without EU labor

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3 October 2021, 11:58

A meat industry leader told LBC the government was forcing the industry to “do cold turkey” without EU labor.

Nick Allen, CEO of the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA), told Swarbrick on Sunday that turkey farmers “would run out of supplies” this Christmas due to a lack of EU manpower .

He said that while government measures such as the 5,500 additional visas for poultry workers “will help”, it will still be a “touch and go”.

He told Tom most of the workers won’t be arriving until November.

“It will be a close race,” he said.

“Turkish suppliers are always going to be under pressure despite what the government has done.”

Asked why visas would not solve the problem, Mr Allen explained that farmers have not been able to raise so many turkeys this year due to the labor shortage and that it is now too late to raise any more in time for Christmas.

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“The farmers don’t know whether they’re going to be able to get a labor supply or not, they didn’t actually put the turkeys in the system in the first place.

“The government only made this announcement last week. Lots of turkeys should have been on the farm a long time ago, you can’t suddenly bring up them.”

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Mr Allen told Tom that the BMPA warned the government of the “looming problem” of labor shortages 18 months ago.

Allen said the Migration Advisory Board recommended that the government put butchers on the shortage list to help alleviate labor shortages, but the Home Office refused to implement these recommendations.

He said: “We have spent 40 years developing a system that has given us access to 500 million people in Europe. Now they have closed the door.”

“They almost made us do cold turkey on this.”

When asked if the UK could not fill the manpower gap on its own, Mr Allen said this was a long-term solution and would not couldn’t happen fast enough for Christmas.

“You can’t suddenly activate a new supply of labor from this country. It’s just not there.”

He concluded: “The government needs to look at this over the longer term. “



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