Meat prices hang in the balance as major slaughterhouses are struggling to fill roles. Now at a staggering 10,000 staff shortfall which poses a huge threat to fulfilling supermarket orders this Xmas.
This crisis in the abattoirs causes a huge threat to red meat producers expected Xmas sales and meat prices.
Currently abattoirs are trying to battle on and increasing overtime to their remaining staff. This is unlikely to make much of an impact when between 10% and 15% of the 75,000 required meat processing roles are unfilled.
The meat production industry has seen a steep rise in staff shortages over the last year, with staff shortages in abattoirs in 2017 at 0-5% now rising to 10-15% this year.
Last year there was no problems reported of output capability but with such a steep rise in staff shortages, there is likely to be a time when abattoirs will need to turn away animals.
69% of meat processing employees are from EU countries and the lack of available EU workers is being blamed on the Brexit referendum devaluing the pound. This has cut down EU workers working in the UK to send cash home to their families.
Unfortunately, sheep farmers have been hit hardest in the last few months by the abattoir staff shortages. This is caused by a higher return of profit margin available to slaughterhouses from beef than lamb.
Meat prices also affected by less cuts
The staff shortages have a knock on effect throughout the meat production chain as their are inadequate workers to maximise profits from carcasses of pigs, lambs and cattle by offering a variety of cuts.
This will have a huge hit on farmers as lower meat prices will hit their profit margin, as the full carcass value available from utilising all the cuts to obtain the optimum value will not be possible.
Production is crucial for meat prices and export
Our meat processing capabilities are vital for farmers to obtain adequate meat prices and the staffing issue within the industry will cause a big problem. The government needs to get involved and support this vital British industry.
If we can’t process meat in the UK we will no longer be able to export it, as in previous years the UK has been exporting carcasses on the hook to get around exporting live animals which is now deemed unacceptable.
Any decline in the UK’s meat processing output capacity will have a serious knock-on effect in our ability to gain value and optimum meat prices through export.
As some cuts of the carcass not favoured in the UK are popular in countries we previously were able to export to. This made the value of carcasses higher and in turn enabled farmers to achieve better meat prices.
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