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UK labor shortage causes food waste

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About 22 million pounds ($27 million) of fruits and vegetables were wasted in the first half of the year due to labor shortages, according to a survey by the National Farmers Union (NFU). ) applied to almost 200 producers.

Given that the survey represents a third of the horticultural sector, the overall figure was likely in excess of £60m, at a time when grocery store prices are rising at near-record rates.

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“It is nothing short of a mockery that quality, nutritious food is being wasted at a time when families across the country are struggling to make ends meet due to rising costs of living,” said NFU Vice President, Tom Bradshaw, in a statement.

While many parts of the economy are understaffed, the agricultural industry often finds it difficult to attract workers as jobs are seasonal and can mean long hours of physical labor at relatively low pay.

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Brexit has also complicated recruitment from the European Union. Since last year, thousands of pigs have been slaughtered on British farms due to staff shortages at meat plants.

The food waste also comes as the UK records its driest July since 1935, further affecting output.

Some 40% of respondents to the NFU survey said they suffered crop failures due to labor shortages, while growers expect output to drop another 4.4% next year. British fruit and vegetable production was valued at around £2.7bn in 2020.

The NFU urged the government to expand a temporary worker program to prevent crop wastage and support investment in the sector.

Source: Gestion

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