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  1. ITV Report

Farms and food production facing seasonal labour shortages as consumer demand grows

Farmers and food producers are calling for British workers to fill a growing labour shortage in the industry.

The lack of people power could affect harvests due to start next month.

Industry experts say that filling seasonal vacancies is "crucial".

  • WATCH: Boss of the UK's biggest producer of sweetcorn, based in West Sussex, outlines the challenges facing farming

We are deeply concerned as an industry that those people are not going to be available this year."

– Julian Marks, Group Managing Director, Barfoots
70,000
Number of annual seasonal workers in farming and food production

At a time when international travel is restricted and people are panic buying due to the Coronavirus, it is crucial that growers can provide enough British produce to our supermarkets and local shops."

– Sarah Boparan, Hops Labour Solutions

The seasonal workforce usually required on British farmers was historically filled by people coming from overseas.

But agriculture sector says that the "points-based" immigration system introduced by the government earlier this year, combined with a clampdown on international travel because of coronavirus, mean filling vacancies will be very difficult.

£1Bn
Extra food purchased over past three weeks

The labour shortage comes at an acutely difficult time for food production, as demand continues to rise.

The British Retail Consortium, which represents grocers and supermarkets, said the surge in buying was "like Christmas," but "without the four month build in planning."

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