There have been reports of labour shortages affecting some businesses throughout the food and farming sector, for example:

  • farms have been unable to hire all the seasonal workers they need to harvest food (and pick other crops such as flowers);
  • businesses in the food and drink processing sector – the country’s largest manufacturing sector – have seen their output fall due to recruitment problems;
  • shortages of HGV drivers, who provide the vital linkages within the food supply chain;
  • some empty shelves at supermarkets & local stores and some menu items being unavailable at restaurants, which have had impacts for consumers.

The reasons are complex: Brexit following the end of the Transition Period on 31 December – including the introduction of the Government’s new immigration policy – and the covid-19 pandemic in particular are often cited, but are other factors also at play, and are the causes temporary or permanent?

This inquiry will explore what is causing labour shortages, and the impact on the food and farming sector both now and in the future.

It will also ask what other factors are affecting the food supply chain. This is likely to focus on the new post-Brexit trading relationship with the EU, including the latest impact of additional red tape and checks at the border since 1 January 2021 on businesses exporting food (and other “Sanitary and Phytosanitary”, or SPS, goods) to the EU. The inquiry will also consider the Government’s latest delay to introducing border controls and checks for SPS imports from the EU, including the effect on the competitiveness of British businesses.

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