Meat industry urges government to fix supply chain crisis

Meat industry urges government to fix supply chain crisis

A coalition of leading food businesses and trade organisations warned the UK faces a deepening food supply chain crisis unless government takes “urgent and meaningful action”.

NFU president, Minette Batters.

Ahead of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) Food Security Summit, the organisations are calling on government “to set out a positive food and farming policy that creates a resilient and sustainable supply chain to underpin domestic food security.”

The coalition comprise NFU, Food and Drink Federation, National Pig Association, British Retail Consortium, Arla Foods UK and ABP UK.

The summit is set to accommodate reflection on a year that saw the first ever mass cull of healthy pigs in the UK, a shortage of seasonal workers, a shortage of lorry drivers, a limited choice of products on supermarket shelves and a rise in imports due to domestic supply chain issues. Alongside this, record inflationary pressures have affected energy, feed and fertiliser prices.

“Long-term solutions are urgently needed”

NFU president Minette Batters said: “Britain’s farmers are world-leaders in producing climate friendly food and, over the past 18 months, have been working hard to keep shelves and fridges full despite many being impacted by severe supply chain issues, particularly worker shortages. Government has tried to paper over the cracks with short-term fixes, but if we want to avoid this crisis continuing, long-term solutions are urgently needed to ensure a resilient supply chain that enables us to continue supplying everyone at home with fantastic produce, as well as leading on the global stage.

“A start would be a serious commitment from government to, at the very least, maintain Britain’s food production self-sufficiency level at 60% and helping to create an environment for farm and food businesses to thrive and compete in the coming years.”

Make-or-break time

Dr Zoe Davies, chief executive, National Pig Association, said: “The UK pig sector is still in meltdown as worker shortages continue to impact our ability to process the number of pigs we already have on farms. The entire food supply chain and government must pull together and resolve the backlog now or we will have no independent pig producers left. Already 60% of the pork eaten in the UK comes from the EU – it would be a travesty to see this figure increase as more healthy UK pigs are culled on farms and their meat wasted.”

Bob Carnell, chief executive, ABP UK said: “The UK is one of the most environmentally competitive beef producers globally. We have the opportunity to further enhance this position and become a global leader through improved use of data and technology at farm level and adopting a whole farm approach to sustainable beef production. To help deliver and give UK consumers and other markets access to the best beef in the world, we need to attract and retain more skilled workers from home and abroad and ensure a level playing field for quality British meat when compared to imports.”

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