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.
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.”
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.