Poultry company owner says food industry is at 'crisis point'

Shops have warned that shortages are only temporary

Shops have warned that shortages are only temporary - Credit: Archant

The founder and owner of one of the country's largest food producers said the industry could face serious shortages and is at "crisis point."

Ranjit Singh Boparan, of the 2 Sisters Food Group, which has factories in Thetford and Bungay, said the pingdemic was "masking" other issues such as Brexit-related shortages and 'Covid troubles.'

He warned the government needed to act or risk facing the "most serious food shortages that this country has seen in over 75 years".

The government has introduced emergency measures which it says will protect food supplies in face of the so-called pingdemic, which will allow thousands of workers to avoid self-isolation if identified as a contact of a coronavirus case.

Mr Boparan said: "No-one could possibly have predicted that this toxic cocktail would come together at this time.

"It started with the pandemic - and in the last week or so with pingdemic, but since May this year the operating environment has deteriorated so profoundly I can see no other outcome than major food shortages in the UK.

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"Supply of chicken and turkey is under threat. Our retail partners and the wider supply chain have worked together closer than ever before to ensure we retain food supply and this is of huge credit to everyone. But we are at crisis point."

He said labour was a concern, with 15pc shortages among its 16,000-strong workforce.

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He said: "We're just about coping, but I can see if no support is forthcoming from government, then shelves will be empty, food waste will rocket simply because it cannot be processed, or delivered, and the shortages we saw last year will be peanuts in comparison to what could come."

In a speech last month, Confederation of British Industry president Karan Bilimoria said the UK's Shortage Occupation List should be updated to help "get our economic recovery on the right track".

He said that they worry sectors such as butchers, bricklayers and welders are facing shortages, adding: "Businesses would also welcome a commitment to review the list annually, to keep it responsive to the ebb and flow of skill demands across the whole of the UK's economy.

"And where there are clear, evidenced labour shortages, businesses should be able to hire from overseas."

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