Managing director Alex Demetriou’s comments pointed toward the potential impact on the availability of migrant workers as the most significant challenge facing producers in the UK this year.
“Last year saw a decline of migrant workers travelling to the UK to pick fruit and vegetables because of the uncertainty over Brexit, so we are expecting the numbers prepared to travel this summer will be even fewer,” he explained. “This is likely to leave a large gap in the labour required – and no real solution to fill it.
“With only 1% of fruit pickers coming from the UK workforce, it’s going to take a seismic shift in labour force and attitudes to fruit picking to rectify the current imbalance. The bottom line is that a shortage in labour may well lead to crops not being picked in time and therefore wasted, as well as a potential under-supply for the UK and export market.”
Forefront of many manufacturers’ minds is the mounting input cost of producing food. Tensions in the Middle East have led to an increase in fuel prices, while staffing costs – especially surrounding the likes of the National Living Wage and the Apprenticeship Levy – have resulted in cuts to overtime hours and bonuses for employees in a bid to improve margins.
“The pressures on operating food and drink businesses at the moment are immense, competition is strong and the margins are often tight, leaving little room for movement,” Demetriou added. “The recent increase in minimum wage and higher pension contributions have made making a profit very difficult in already challenging conditions.
Source: Thanks https://www.foodmanufacture.co.uk/Article/2020/03/04/Challenges-and-trends-for-food-and-drink-in-2020