1. ITV Report

Strong warning from Cornish businesses ahead of Brexit

Strong warning from Cornish businesses ahead of Brexit. Photo: ITV News

Food rotting in the fields, bare supermarket shelves and farmers abandoning their crops are just a few of the warnings from some Cornish businesses who say Brexit and a fall in exchange rates is creating a labour shortage.

  • Watch Kathy Wardle's report on Cornwall's Brexit fears

One farmer told ITV News he may give up his farm if he can't find enough workers to pick his crops.

They've been growing strawberries at Mitchell near Newquay for 40 years. Credit: ITV News

They have been growing strawberries at Mitchell near Newquay for 40 years.

The farm relies on seasonal labour and 80% of the workers are from other EU countries. Any restrictions brought in by Brexit could have dire consequences for the business.

Jeremy Best, a fruit grower, said ''The workers may say well I don't like any of this I'm not going to come to Britain, I'd rather go to Germany or maybe I'll stay at home and work there."

"So immediately instead of having 85,000 workers which is what we need in this country to pick and harvest the strawberries and cabbages through the winter and through the summer have a reduction in 10%, that's 10% less people, 10% less strawberries, 10% less fruit and veg and then you'll have 10% less on the shelves and shelves will be bare.''

Voita is from the Czech Republic and works on Jeremy's farm. Credit: ITV News

Most of Jeremy's staff are from the Czech Republic, like 19-year-old student Voita. He says he wants to keep coming over but isn't sure if it will be possible after Brexit.

Voita said, ''I am worried because I don't know what it will mean for me, so I am worried that I don't know what will be in the future."

In terms of the future of the farm, Jeremy said ''I'm of a certain age I might just say I think I've had enough.''

Picking strawberries very often requires seasonal pickers. Credit: ITV News

Staffing issues aren't only being felt in farming. Across the UK there is already a shortage of trained chefs which is becoming a real problem for restaurants in Cornwall.

The Eden Project says it's finding it hard to recruit them for it's food outlets.

Gordon Seabright, from The Eden Project, said ''Here at Eden we had a couple of chefs leave and go home to Eastern Europe because they felt uncomfortable in the UK and then recruitment becomes harder.

"Because if people feel they don't want to move to the UK then you're reliant on a much smaller pool of potential labour. so we have found it hard, now we train up as many as we can, we work in schools, we work in apprenticeships but sometimes you actually need to be able to attract skilled labour.''

One chef working at The Eden Project. Credit: ITV News

At one hotel in Redruth there are six workers from across the EU, including French food and beverage manager Mattieu Ouvard.

He said, ''Maybe tomorrow they're going to say all the foreigners out, I doubt it and if it does happen then the hospitality industry will suffer for it. I'm not saying the foreigners are the best at it but we take it very very seriously indeed."

"Now to tell you that I will be staying here for the next 10 years I would be lying because I just don't know I don't know what the politicians are going to decide. It's very uncertain, I know a lot of people are scared.''

Food and beverage manager Mattieu Ouvard and hotel manager Rajesh Joshi. Credit: ITV News

The hotel itself has responded to Brexit by shifting it's focus to staycations and independent travellers. It's spending £2 million making over it's rooms and gone up a star rating.

Hotel manager Rajesh Joshi said, ''We looked at what if scenarios and those what if scenarios of what will happen what might not happen and worked to that and yes it's taking into account that there will be more things changing there'll be other big things happening but it doesn't matter at the end of the day it's about making the business robust.''

The hotel has taken on more staff since the EU Referendum. Credit: ITV News