The National Pig Association has warned that around 120,000 pigs are being saved on farms due to a lack of slaughterhouse workers, and the British Poultry Council has said it plans to cut Christmas turkey production by 20 %. Protesters gathered outside the Conservative Party conference in Manchester on Monday with signs reading ‘All we want for Christmas are our pigs in a blanket’ and ‘#saveourbacon’.
Consumers are already anticipating shortages. A farmer in Leeds said last month customers had already ordered the 3,500 turkeys she was raising for Christmas – a first.
The lack of truck drivers has also caused sporadic shortages of basic goods, including eggs, milk and baked goods. One in six people in Britain said that in recent weeks they had been unable to purchase certain essential food items because they were not available, according to a report by the Office for National Statistics, who interviewed around 3,500 households.
Some consumers surveyed in recent days said they had no difficulty finding what they wanted in grocery stores. But Meriem Mahdhi, 22, who left Italy for Colchester in south-eastern England last month to attend university, said she had struggled to find essentials in her local grocery store, Tesco, the UK’s largest supermarket chain.
“All the dried foods like pasta, canned fruit, it’s all gone, every day,” she said. Tesco did not respond to a request for comment.
Seeking a quick fix, 200 military personnel in fatigues arrived at refineries on Monday to help deliver fuel to gas stations. About half of them drove civilian vehicles and the rest provided logistical support. “As an added precaution, we have put in additional drivers,” Sunak said.
Over the weekend, the government said it had extended thousands of temporary visas allowing foreign workers to work in Britain until the early months of next year. But economists said temporary visas probably won’t be enough to make a big difference, as there are shortages at every link in the supply chain.