The UK’s ongoing shortage of meat processing workers means that poultry processors are expecting a 20% reduction in the volume of turkeys they will be able to process this Christmas.

A final decision on the number of birds laid down for this festive period will not be made for another two to three weeks, British Poultry Council CEO Richard Griffiths has said.

Staff numbers

Based on current staff numbers, the sector is working on the assumption that volumes would be about 20% lower than when supermarket orders were placed at the start of the year, he warned.

“Processors are looking to delay their decisions for as long as possible, but some larger birds are already on the ground,” he said.

“They won’t be able to guarantee the manpower required to slaughter, process, pack and dispatch.”

Irish concern

Meanwhile, concerns are growing that the processing of livestock could be hit by ongoing issues in staff shortages in Irish meat factories.

Meat Industry Ireland told the Irish Farmers Journal that labour availability is a major concern in meat processing presently and the situation is deteriorating.

The sector has always found it difficult to recruit and retain staff, with many coming from non-EU countries.

The sector was also hit by COVID-19, with a high number of staff becoming ill with the virus.