‘Supermarket shelves will be emptier!’ UK to face turkey shortages this Christmas

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The British Poultry Council has admitted reductions in turkey supplies might result in alternative products from the EU. The Government has previously announced they will permit 5,500 poultry workers to take up employment in the UK until Christmas Eve.

However, the British Poultry Council, has said this announcement should have been made “back in April [and] May.”

CEO of the British Poultry Council Richard Griffiths told The i: “I don’t want to downplay Christmas because Christmas is important… but it’s only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the labour shortages.

“We really need more than a sticking plaster on this.

“People want British around Christmas time. Demand for British has gone up steadily over the last 20 years.

“Will people accept [turkeys from abroad], possibly, because they have to, but it’s not the ideal situation.”

He added: “We want to be able to be in a place where everybody can access British turkey at Christmas.”

However, Kate Martin, chairwoman of the Traditional Farm Fresh Turkey Association (TFTA), has said producers relying on European Labour are affected by shortages.

She said: “This year it’s looking like there is a national shortage of turkeys when we’re talking about supermarket shelves, rather than buying direct from your farm.

“It is the supermarket shelves that will be emptier on turkeys this year than they have been before, only because there have been less turkeys placed on the ground, only because the big processors know that they will not get them processed.”

The National Farmers Union has welcomed the Government’s visa scheme applying for poultry workers up until Christmas Eve.

However, they have called for a 12-month Covid Recovery Visa to help tackle the labour shortages.

The news comes amid a nationwide shortage of HGV drivers and fuel shortages.

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Experts have even suggested there is a shortage of around 90,000 drivers in the UK alone.

To make up for the shortfall, the Government has granted 5,000 temporary visas for overseas lorry drivers for employment in the UK to prevent a crisis at Christmas.

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