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Lack of labour piles pressure on meat trade

Some meat  processing companies are reporting a 10-12% shortfall in filling vacancies.
Some meat processing companies are reporting a 10-12% shortfall in filling vacancies.

Scotland’s meat processors say that labour shortages, exacerbated by the sudden demand for barbeque products during the hot weather, have put their businesses under strain

Alan McNaughton, the newly elected president of the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW),  said some companies are reporting a 10-12% shortfall in filling vacancies, which is adding stress to the industry which is trying to recover from the impact of Covid lockdowns and related regulations.

Demand for meat products has gone through the roof during the recent spell of  hot weather.

He added: “Our assessment is that current labour issues are linked to the upheaval caused by the changes affecting EU workers since January 1 this year.

“One member told a recent SAMW executive committee meeting that the labour shortage is now his number one concern, which is quite a statement, given the Covid-19 pressures under which all businesses have been operating since March 2020.”

Alan McNaughton judging at a meat exhibition.</p> <p>

Mr McNaughton said the UK Government’s approach to the negotiation of free trade agreements (FTAs) was another area of  concern for association members, particularly in  light of reports about an imminent FTA with Australia, and what might happen if it is concluded.

“If it is then used as a template to close similar free access deals with the USA, Brazil, and others, the exact terms of this first significant post-Brexit FTA are going to be crucial to our industry’s future,” he said.

“We cannot, for example, accept products being imported into the UK which do not abide by our own high standards of health, welfare, and safety.  A future FTA structure in which everything is welcome if the price is right, will damage our domestic industry beyond repair.”

Mr McNaughton was previously  president of SAMW  in 2012-2016 when he was manager of the McIntosh Donald plant at Portlethen. He succeeds Andy McGowan, the chief executive of Scottish Pig Producers.

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