Threat of Brexit could mean no pigs in blankets this Christmas

PUBLISHED: 15:17 28 October 2019 | UPDATED: 15:37 28 October 2019

A traditional Christmas Dinner on Christmas Day
. Photograph: David Davies/PA.

A traditional Christmas Dinner on Christmas Day . Photograph: David Davies/PA.

PA Archive/PA Images

The threat of Brexit is leading to shortage of pigs in blankets at Christmas, despite a poll finding a majority believe it is an integral part of a festive dinner.

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The British Meat Processors Association is concerned about the shortage of labour from the EU, meaning there could be a reduction in Christmas treats on supermarket shelves this year.

Nick Allen from the organisation said because pigs in blankets were not created with a machine it could be one of the products that is at risk.

He said: "These are incredibly fiddly and very labour intensive.

"Packing plants need 10-15% extra labour to get everything ready. And this is a challenge at the moment because of Brexit."

The association said that 60% of workers in the meat plans here comes from other countries, and the demand for staff is even higher ahead of Christmas.

It added that the rural locations where a lot of processing plants are based means that it is harder to attract additional staff.

The BMPA has not identified what foods will not make the shelves - but hinted the Christmas products that were most at risk.

He continued: "The meat industry is trying to juggle, but something has got to give somewhere. There's only so much overtime you can ask workers to do.

"It's all the little extras that make it Christmas which create the extra work, and that's where we're struggling."

It comes as the British Poultry Council warned that "finding sufficient labour is becoming a massive challenge for the poultry meat sector as the uncertainty around Brexit is prompting many of our workers to seek jobs in other countries".

More than 60% of the poultry workforce comes from the EU, and it has to fill 7,200 vacancies every year.

Spokesperson Shraddha Kaul warned that costs may have to rise to fulfil demand.

"If these vacancies cannot be filled post Brexit, [it] will have a significant impact on the production of, and therefore cost of food", she said.

Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said fears not only surrounded food availablility - but the affordability too.

He said: "News that our Christmas dinner staples are under threat due to the UK no longer attracting enough EU seasonal workers is unsurprising, but makes grim reading for the 61% of Brits who say their Christmas dinner would be incomplete without pigs in blankets.

"Not only are our Christmas pigs in blankets under threat, but so is the affordability of British food and our access to the foods we eat on a weekly basis. It is clear that those pursuing Brexit have been telling porkies about the reality when it comes to fresh food after Brexit."

He added: "We can stop the national embarrassment that is Brexit. Liberal Democrats will continue to fight to stop Brexit. We passionately believe there is no deal as good as the one we have in the EU."

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