Brexit: More than a third of UK food firms unviable without access to EU workers: survey

24 August 2017

Over a third of UK firms in the 'farm to fork' sector are warning their businesses are "unviable" without access to EU workers after Brexit.

According to a survey, compiled by the Food and Drink Federation, which included the views of companies within a range of trade bodies in the wider produce industry 36-per cent had concerns over their very future.

According to the report, 31 per cent of firms had already lost EU staff following the UK's vote to leave the EU in June last year while 47 per cent warned workers were considering their future as Brexit negotiations continued.

Currently, some two million EU nationals are working in the country with 20 per cent of them in the food and drink supply chain including the soft fruit sector.

The federation warned in June that strawberry costs could soar by 50 per cent with labour restrictions, arguing many UK workers lacked the will and the skills needed in that area.

A separate study conducted by the business services firm Deloitte found that the country faced the prospect of a Brexit brain drain and a major initiative to boost skills was needed if damage was to be limited.

While the government has signaled tougher immigration rules will be in put in place, once the UK leaves the bloc, EU citizens living in the country have been told that they can remain - proposing applications for 'settled status'.

Supported by trade bodies throughout the food, drink and farming industry, the study said 17 per cent of firms would shift their operations overseas in response to a block on EU workers, the Press Association reported.

The research, which was sourced from 627 businesses, included input from the Association of Labour Providers, British Beer and Pub Association, British Hospitality Association, British Retail Consortium, Fresh Produce Consortium and the National Farmers' Union.

 search domain-b