Butcher shortage leaves pigs stuck on farms

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A shortage of butchers means thousands of pigs otherwise ready for slaughter are stuck on farms across Britain.

Meat specialist Cranswick is talking to the government about special waivers to get more butchers and slaughterhouse workers into Britain to deal with the problem.

CEO Adam Couch estimated that between 300 and 400 workers are needed to ease pressure in the industry. The “backlog” of pigs is put in the thousands, though Couch said it was tough to put precise numbers on it.

The meat industry has had a tough few years due to the loss of skilled labourers post-Brexit and the temporary shutdown of many processing plants due to Covid outbreaks.

Couch said: “It’s a perfect storm: you’ve got post-pandemic, you’ve got post-Brexit and then you’ve got a shortage of butchers.”

Cranswick is already working overtime to address the backlog of pigs, with its processing plants now running at weekends. A shortage of workers saw wage inflation hit 15% towards the end of 2021, Couch said, adding to costs.

The Cranswick boss is “pushing hard” for government support in bringing workers from the EU and further afield to address the problems. He is also asking for help on an issue with Chinese exports. The country has banned imports from Cranwick’s Norfolk facility after a Covid-19 outbreak there during the pandemic.

Asked if the government were receptive, Couch said: “We’re having to paddle our own canoe in some respects.”

 

 

Evening Standard

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