In Scotland, a shortage of truck drivers and farm workers has forced a huge crop of cabbage to be left in the fields. The farmers’ co-operative East of Scotland Growers (ESG) estimates that they have thrown away 3.5 million broccoli florets and 1.9 million cauliflower florets since the UK left the European Union. In August, it was revealed that UK supermarket shelves had emptied as a result of Brexit. The military had to be brought in to deliver food and medicine.
Producers in Scotland said in a conversation with The Independent that the situation will only get worse by the end of the year. As well as problems finding drivers to deliver crops to freezer warehouses, farmers could not find workers to pick vegetables.
“We were due to start freezing produce over the weekend (September 4 and 5), but due to a shortage of workers we have not been able to freeze anything,” said ESG head Andrew Fachney.
ESG is now 20 per cent short of staff. Fachney fears that many of the remaining workers will leave when they reach their financial targets or if they can’t stand the overwork.
The shortage of frozen and canned foods has already forced retailers to buy vegetables with short shelf lives. Because of this, warehouses are overcrowded and there is nowhere to store frozen produce.
Yougov found in a survey that 56% of 3,500 consumers in the UK felt there was a shortage of goods on supermarket shelves. Scotland was the hardest hit, with 67% of respondents saying they were short of shelves, while 57% of UK respondents said they were unhappy.
Scottish food and farming organisations wrote to the UK and Scottish governments calling for more action to tackle the labour crisis. In the letter they said they had reached “a crisis point that threatens the growth, viability and security of many Scottish businesses”.
In July, the British Road Haulage Association said there was a shortage of around 100,000 truck drivers in the country. Because of this, there is no one to deliver food, essentials and medicines. Food and medicine deliveries have been taken over by military drivers.
Earlier it was reported that from 6 September an experiment to introduce a four-day working week was launched in Scotland. Companies will be paid £10m for participating in the experiment. The authorities have assured that wages will remain at the same level and will not decrease.