Pigs in blankets shortage this Christmas is 'inevitable', warns meat industry
Please, God, no. There has to be pigs in blankets at Christmas
Christmas dinner is mint. Pigs in blankets are mint. Thems the facts. Combining that classic Sunday roast format with those little cocktail-sized parcels of pork-ception essentially makes it a Christmas dinner in our books - you can stuff your sprouts, just give me double-portions of piggies.
However, brace for impact because according to The British Meat Processors Association, we could be without our precious pigs in blankets come Christmas. Right, that's it, I say we call the whole thing off until this crisis is resolved.
They say that the majority of meat companies are around six weeks behind their Christmas production schedules and are warning that both staff and skills shortages could continue to further hamper food production.
A spokeswoman said it looks "inevitable" there will be a shortage of what they describe as more 'complicated' lines of products such as pigs in blankets and gammon roasts.
Politics Home has conducted a poll that suggests 47% of people are in favour of relaxing immigration rules to alleviate supply chain problems and allow more EU lorry drivers in to the UK. Only 21% oppose it.@DefraGovUK @ukhomeoffice https://t.co/LXSPI3Bb3d
— BMPA (@BMPA_INFO) August 24, 2021
She went on to add that: "Given the current workforce shortages, meat companies are finding it difficult to see how they’ll dig themselves out of this."
"Part of the issue is that it’s more difficult to time the supply of pigs in the same way that you can for Christmas turkeys, so production of Christmas favourites like pigs in blankets has to be done well in advance, and normally should have started at the beginning of July.
"To add insult to injury, those same retailers are then charging a penalty to their suppliers for failure to deliver. This is the definition of a vicious circle and the problem will continue to spiral until something changes.
"That ‘something’ must be an injection of new workers - not in two or three month’s time, but now - which the Government has in its power to bring about by temporarily relaxing visa requirements for migrant workers."
This comes in the same week that both Nandos and McDonalds ran out of things like chicken and milkshakes as supply chains continue to be disrupted not only by the impact of Covid-19 but, well, you know - the B-word.
As reported by the British Poultry Council, there is still a significant shortage of workers across farming and processing with many businesses reporting an average vacancy rate of over 16% in their workforce. This means that turkey production is also down by 20%, meaning that even if the supply is enough for the holidays, there could be massive inflation in prices as a result.
Moreover, food and logistics experts are pointing to a crippling driver shortage still being one of the most key factors and it is far from being over either, as newer, more stringent Brexit checks are set to begin in October.
Andrew Opie, Director of Food & Sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said: "HGV driver shortages and disruption to global shipping has meant there has been some minor disruption to supply chains. Retailers are working closely with their supply chains to resolve these issues and ensure that consumers still have access to the same great selection of goods.
"Christmas is hugely important to retailers and customers alike, and businesses are already making preparations. While we do not anticipate problems, retailers will be taking all necessary measures to mitigate possible disruption.
"This includes paying extra to secure HGV drivers, and bringing non-perishable goods in early, or via alternative routes, to avoid a last-minute rush on shipping. In the meantime, Government must address the HGV driver shortage by rapidly increasing the number of HGV driving tests taking place, providing visas for EU drivers, and looking for a longer-term solution."
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