Brexit: UK meat firms exporting animals to Republic for butchering

Staff shortages see carcasses exported for processing and then reimported

A trade body says there is a 15 per cent staff shortage across many meat plants in the UK. Photograph: iStock

A trade body says there is a 15 per cent staff shortage across many meat plants in the UK. Photograph: iStock

 

British meat producers have begun exporting beef carcasses to the Republic for butchering before reimporting them, due to labour shortages in the wake of Brexit, the British Meat Processors Association said.

Beef carcasses have been put on lorries and sent by ferry to the Republic to cutting and packing plants to be butchered and then brought back to Britain, the association’s chief executive Nick Allen said.

“Due to the shortage of meat workers in the UK and the limitations to recruit caused by the immigration policy, processors are taking advantage of the fact that other countries are sourcing extra labour from around the world and exporting meat to be processed and returned to this country,” Mr Allen said.

“Whilst it is an added cost, it is a better option than empty shelves and animals building up on the farms,” he said.

Staff shortage

There is a 15 per cent staff shortage across many meat plants in the UK, climbing as high as 20 per cent in some cases, Mr Allen said. The UK beef sector needs to fill 15,000 vacancies, a majority of them skilled or semi-skilled, he added.

Last month the British government agreed to issue 800 temporary visas for butchers to work in the UK for six months, but the government has not said how many applications have been made. – Reuters