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Bethan Wilkins


AHDB Pork Market Intelligence


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Potential impact of Brexit on the meat processing workforce

Home \ Prices & Stats \ News \ 2016 \ September \ Potential impact of Brexit on the meat processing workforce

The latest issue in AHDB’s Horizon series highlights potential consequences arising from the loss of EU migrant labour on workforce availability in the wider agricultural and food sector.

Controlling immigration was a key theme of the Leave Campaign, as well as being a motivating factor for voters, and hence it is likely that post-Brexit Britain will place some restrictions on the movement of labour from the EU. Within the pork sector this is particularly relevant to the meat processing industry, where a disproportionate number of Central and Eastern European migrants have been employed since the enlargement of the EU in the early 2000’s.

In light of the potential for a post-Brexit labour shortage impacting the pork industry, potential strategies to address this issue need to be considered. The report examines four broad categories of solution that could be employed, including schemes the government may introduce to maintain the current availability of migrant labour in the sector.  Sourcing the workforce domestically is also discussed, though this is likely to prove difficult in the agriculture and meat processing industries due to the reported low desirability of these jobs to British nationals. 

Equally, the suggestion of increasing labour productivity may not be feasible within meat processing, as food reports one of the highest productivities within the manufacturing sector. However, increasing automation may be of particular interest, though this would require early investment despite the current uncertainty, and may not assuage labour shortages in the short to medium term.

To read more detailed analysis of the potential impact of restricted EU migration on the agricultural and food processing workforce and a more thorough examination of solutions to tackle this complex problem, click here.

Bethan Wilkins, Trainee Analyst, 024 7647 8757