“Soaring” staff shortages have resulted in roughly 10,000 posts being unfilled at major slaughterhouses, reports British farming industry magazine Farmers Weekly. The shift in the industry could cause animal protein companies to “seriously struggle” to complete Christmas orders, an industry leader said.
The shortage of workers has become more severe in the last 12 months, according to Nick Allen, the chief executive of the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA). In 2017, less than five percent of positions were unfilled. Now, 10 to 15 percent of the 75,000 jobs in the meat processing industry are vacant.
Throughput has not yet been impacted, however, its future is uncertain. “There were no major problems last year,” Allen said. “But we [the BMPA] could see a scenario where they [meat processors] say: ‘Sorry, we can only do so many animals this week’.”
Issues within the processing field could have a domino effect across the rest of the market. The lack of staffing means there is less time for butchery; “staff do not have time to transform a beef, lamb, or pig carcass into as wide a variety of cuts as before,” Farmers Weekly wrote, placing more pressure on the already “wafer-thin margins” of the supply chain.
Jonny Williams, senior livestock procurement officer for Scottish co-operative Farm Stock, disclosed that the reason behind the falling staff numbers is simply lack of interest.