The founder and owner of one of the country’s largest food producers said the industry was at “crisis point”.
Ranjit Singh Boparan, of the 2 Sisters Food Group, said the pingemia “masked” other issues, including Brexit-related shortages and Covid issues.
Mr Boparan – known as Chicken King due to 2 Sisters’ large-scale involvement in the poultry trade – warned the government must act or face “the most severe food shortages this country has to face. have known for over 75 years ”.
The government has introduced emergency measures that it says will protect food supplies from the so-called pingemia, allowing thousands of workers to avoid having to self-isolate if identified as contact with the disease. ‘a case of coronavirus.
But Mr Boparan said: “No one could have predicted that this toxic cocktail would form at that time.
“It started with the pandemic – and over the last week or so with the pingemic, but since May of this year the operating environment has deteriorated so profoundly that I see no other result than food shortages. major in the UK.
“The supply of chicken and turkey is under threat. Our retail partners and the broader supply chain have collaborated more closely than ever to ensure that we conserve the food supply and this is a huge credit to everyone. But we are at the point of crisis.
Mr Boparan, who was on the Sunday Times Rich List in 2020 with his wife Baljinder with a fortune of £ 593million, added that labor was a concern, reporting a 15% shortage among his 16 000 employees, Brexit reducing the staff available in the sector.
He said: “The only critical problem with the job means that we are walking a tightrope every week right now.
“We’re just about to face it, but I can see if no support is given – and urgently – from the government, then the shelves will be empty, food waste will explode just because they can’t. be processed or delivered, and the shortages that we saw for the last year will be peanuts compared to what might come.
Adding that food inflation and coping with the reality of Covid is also a challenge, he added: “These are unique challenges that define the era we started to face head on last year.
“But they’ve all come to a head in the past 12 weeks. Obviously, this has put continuous and intensive pressure on our business, just as they have done elsewhere. “
In a speech last month, Confederation of British Industry chairman Karan Bilimoria said the UK’s list of shortage occupations should be updated “to ensure the UK is open for business and to put our economic recovery on track ”.
He said: “Last year – in September 2020 – the Migration Advisory Committee recommended that we add certain roles to this list.
“Butchers, masons, and welders for example. Now, almost a year later, we fear that these are exactly the same sectors facing shortages.
“Businesses would also be delighted to commit to revising the list every year, to keep it responsive to the ebb and flow of skill demands across the UK economy.
“And where there are clear and proven labor shortages, companies should be able to hire from overseas.”