The trade association was responding to the Conservative Party speech of Home Secretary Suella Braverman who said that there is “absolutely no reason why we can’t train up enough of our own HGV drivers, butchers and fruit-pickers.”
However, in a response on its website the BMPA said that this would be the approach in an “ideal world” but highlighted that “this is not an ideal world and there are several reasons why it’s simply not practical to fill all these kinds of vacancies with workers from the UK.”
Secure domestic food supply chain
It highlighted that if the Government wants to nurture a robust and secure domestic food supply chain, it will need to accept that a proportion of vacancies will need to be filled by foreign workers who are prepared migrate to where the work is.
BMPA said that most of the meat eaten in the UK is processed through one of a relatively small number of abattoirs and meat processing plants which are often located in rural areas and where the local rate of unemployment is very low.
“It’s difficult to source all the workers and skills needed from those local catchments, and it’s often not practical or desirable for British people to relocate themselves and their families to take up a meat plant job,” the BMPA said.
The trade association added that the meat processing industry has always had a greater challenge to attract new entrants.
“This has been a consistent barrier to finding new staff for decades and doesn’t show any signs of changing, despite the best efforts of meat companies to attract local talent. Butchery is skilled work that requires up to two years training and many more to perfect. However, unlike in many European countries, British school leavers and job seekers see it as less desirable than some other careers,” BMPA said.