Alarm in food supply chain at government migrant plans

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The Food & Drink Federation says it is “alarmed” by government proposals for EU immigrants set out in a document leaked to “The Guardian” newspaper.

The 82 page Home Office document proposes to drive down the number of lower skilled migrants by offering them residency for two years only post-Brexit. Those in high skilled occupations would be granted permits to work for up to five years.

This would hit companies in the food supply chain particularly hard. The Food & Drink Federation recently carried out a survey showing that some 400,000 EU nationals are currently working in the sector – about one third of the total permanent workforce.

They are distributed as follows:

* 30 per cent of the food and drink manufacturing workforce

* 18 per cent of food wholesaling

* 5 per cent of food retailing workforce

* 12 per cent of food and drink service

* 9 per cent of the permanent agricultural workforce

And the FDF survey warned that that if organisations across the food supply chain do not have access to EU nationals, over a third of respondents believe their business will become unviable.

Responding to the leaked document, Ian Wright, director general of the Food & Drink Federation, said: “Food and drink manufacturing, Britain’s largest manufacturing sector, will be alarmed by the proposals contained in the document published by “The Guardian”.

“If this does represent the Government’s thinking it shows a deep lack of understanding of the vital contribution that EU migrant workers make – at all skill levels – across the food chain. It also undermines the role and creation of the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC).

“We will continue to work with Government and MAC to ensure a practical and evidence based way to proceed.”

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