Reading Time: 2 minutes It's hoped the shortages will 'spark much-needed change' in eating habits across the country Credit: Adobe. Do not use without permission.
Reading Time: 2 minutes

As labor issues sweep through the UK meat industry, some sectors are reporting a decline in slaughter figures. This is as a result of both COVID-19 and Brexit.

Meat producers have been facing ‘insurmountable difficulties’ in transporting food across the EU border, according to The British Poultry Council (BPC).

Now, the poultry sector is reporting a slaughter reduction of ten percent this week alone.

UK meat industry

The figure was revealed in a BBC report, which claims that many of the industry’s bird slaughters are undertaken by EU nationals.

Usually, around one billion birds are slaughtered and packed in the UK annually.

But, as many workers from the EU returned home due to Brexit and the pandemic, the meat industry began reporting recruitment issues.

To combat this, meat producers are trying to raise wages, the BPC told the news outlet.

Moreover, the BPC is calling on the government to ease rules in order to encourage EU workers to come back on board.

Brexit regulations

New Brexit regulations have caused disruption in food supply across the borders, resulting in long queues and supermarket shortages this year.

Long checks and paperwork systems are also slowing down business. This has affected the meat industry hugely, according to the figures: 

  • Overall poultry exports have decreased in value by almost 70 percent
  • Meat exports are down 25 percent in comparison to last year
  • The industry is facing between £90 million and £120 million in extra costs

A win for veganism?

Whilst the problems have been praised by animal advocates, it is not necessarily a win for the vegan movement.

This is because reports indicate EU buyers are sourcing their meat from farms in other countries in Europe: which may well have lower welfare standards.

Will the COVID-19 pandemic end the meat industry for good?

‘Much needed change’

A spokesperson for the Vegan Society praised the decline in slaughter figures, however.

They told the BBC that just as the pandemic encouraged Brits to cut back animal products, the labor shortage ‘could potentially spark much-needed change’.

Moreover, this bodes well for both animals and the environment.

They added: “We hope to see farmers gradually moving away from farming animals. To growing crops for human consumption by providing food for the growing vegan population.”

Emily is a News and Features Writer for Plant Based News. She has previously worked as a journalist in Devon, UK, reporting on local issues from politics to the environment.