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07th Sep 2021

Millions of vegetables thrown away as labour shortages hit farms

Kieran Galpin

Shortage on vegetables

Cauliflower and broccoli seem to be the worst hit

Vegetable growers in Scotland are having to throw away millions of cauliflower and broccoli heads due to a shortage of farmworkers and lorry drivers, according to reports.

The East of Scotland Growers (ESG) group, a farmers co-operative in Fife, has estimated that it has scrapped 3.5m heads of broccoli and 1.9m heads of cauliflower as a result of the crisis – and this is expected to get worse as we approach Christmas.

“We should have started our freezing production last weekend, but, as yet, we haven’t frozen a single floret of broccoli,” managing director of ESG, Andrew Faichney told The Independent.

He explained that the delay was due to a lack of lorries to haul frozen goods. This meant, retailers are prioritising short shelf-life products: “The net result being storage is now at capacity, and there is nowhere to store processed product.”

The combination of lorry driver shortages and that of farmworkers has hit the industry hard. Faichney said that they are working with only 80% of the required workforce. While this has meant workers are earning more money from overtime, there are fears this will ultimately result in further workforce shortages as workers reach “their financial target”.

A YouGov survey on Friday that 56% of shoppers have experienced food shortages at the supermarkets.

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