Breaking the chain

Key workforce considerations for the UK food and drink supply chain as we leave the EU

Ensuring the nation can be fed must be a high strategic priority for Government. The people working across our supply chain are essential to what UK consumers eat and drink. However, the public's vote to leave the EU in June 2016 has presented our sector with significant challenges and opportunities when it comes to migration and access to labour. We hope that by coming together and pooling our data, this industry research will inform policymakers and provide appropriate solutions to the issues facing us.

At a glance, our sector can be broken down as follows:

  • Of the two million EU nationals working in the UK economy 20% - or one in five – currently work in the food and drink supply chain.
  • By sub-sector, these 400,000 workers are distributed as follows
  • 30% of the food and drink manufacturing workforce
  • 18% of food wholesaling
  • 5% of food retailing workforce
  • 12% of food and drink service
  • 9% of the permanent agricultural workforce
  • Around a quarter of EU nationals working across the supply chain have a degree or equivalent or are qualified to higher education level. This compares to only 10% who have no qualifications.

The main findings from the survey show that on average around a third of the food and drink supply chain's permanent workforce are EU nationals. Almost three quarters of respondents face challenges when recruiting permanent local staff and almost two thirds when looking for local seasonal/ temporary workers. If organisations across the food chain did not have access to EU nationals, over a third of respondents stated their business would become unviable.

 

Download full report: Breaking the chain - Key workforce considerations for the UK food and drink supply chain as we leave the EU


Last reviewed: 23 Aug 2017