Up to 40,000 workers will be needed to pick crops this summer, warns horticulture industry
- Credit: PA
As the first flights of 180 Romanian workers arrives in the UK to help pick fruit and vegetables, one leading voice in the horticulture sector has said the demand will continue to grow.
Jack Ward, chief executive of the British Growers Association, was speaking after reports of Romanian workers were being urgently flown in as pickers to help farmers across Britain after it emerged that not enough Britons registered to work on farms.
He said that as the UK reaches asparagus season, just 5,000 pickers will be needed to help with picking crops.
But the 'crunch' will come from May onwards when 35,000 to 40,000 workers will be needed to pick foods such as lettuce and berries.
'This is a long game,' he told the PA news agency. 'The salad season will run well into October and growers have got to be very confident that they have got enough labour for the entire season.
'We could be in a very different situation let's say by July 1.
You may also want to watch:
'What we can't do is go 'OK, we had a terrific number of volunteers for the first eight weeks of the season and then they all went back to work and we haven't got anybody left'.'
He added that it is 'too early to tell' if there could be more charter flights.
- 1 Joe Biden’s ‘candid’ message to Boris Johnson on Northern Ireland Brexit row
- 2 Why don't Brexiteers like to talk about Brexit any more?
- 3 Brexit: British 'expats' in Spain facing deportation over residency
- 4 Major disaster: How Tories' 1992 victory sowed seeds of Brexit
- 5 Is the Sun setting on Murdoch's global media empire?
- 6 Five years of Brexit summed up by Cold War Steve
- 7 The fight against the homogenisation of the British Isles
- 8 Did Donald Trump really wear his trousers backwards at Republicans' North Carolina rally?
- 9 The 40 best European TV shows to stream
- 10 Britain is becalmed by apathy: Where is the rage?
Ward expected the 'vast majority' of seasonal workers this year will be British but that businesses cannot run 'on enthusiasm alone'.
'When you're operating on the scale (that large food producers) are, you do need a few people around who know what they're doing,' he said. 'You just can't run these businesses on enthusiasm alone.'
He said that, historically, a 'significant proportion' of pickers come from Eastern Europe and return year after year.
'I think what that workforce provides is a bit of experience and know-how to mix in this year with the people who have never done this before,' said Ward.
But he said that there had been a 'terrific response' to recruit more British workers this year.
'If anything we've been overwhelmed with offers of help,' he said. 'It's been an amazing response.'
Become a Supporter
The New European is proud of its journalism and we hope you are proud of it too. We believe our voice is important - both in representing the pro-EU perspective and also to help rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.