The Government is “continuing to work closely” with the pig industry amid a reported shortage of butchers which could impact food supplies over Christmas.
Ministers are considering plans to ease visa restrictions for up to 1,000 foreign butchers, according to national newspaper reports.
A spokesman for the Department For Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said it was aware of labour shortages.
“We understand the importance of seasonal labour and we are aware of the challenges that the pig industry has faced in recent months because of the Covid-19 pandemic and labour shortages, and Defra has been working closely with the pig and processing sectors during this time,” he said.
“We are keeping the market under close review and continuing to work closely with the sector to explore options to address the pressures industry is currently facing.”
The Times reported the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) said the industry is short about 15,000 workers, with has forced its members to just focus on keeping supermarkets stocked with basic cuts of meat.
A BMPA spokesperson was quoted as saying: “We really should have been producing Christmas food from about June or July onwards this year and so far we haven’t, so there’ll be shortages of party foods and things like pigs in blankets. Anything that is labour-intensive work could see shortages.”
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