Brexit Christmas: Pigs in blankets supply could be hit by labour shortages

Pigs not in blankets
Pigs not in blankets
Gareth Fuller
Gareth Milner

By Gareth Milner

Published: 24/08/2021

- 17:00

Updated: 24/08/2021

- 17:03

The warning came as fast food giant McDonald’s ran out of milkshakes in all its UK restaurants

Christmas favourites like pigs in blankets could be in short supply this festive season as a result of post-Brexit issues.

Britons may find them harder to come by this winter as industry labour shortages continue to bite, the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) warned.

The warning came as fast food giant McDonald’s ran out of milkshakes in all its UK restaurants following haulage and supply chain problems.

Meanwhile, a retail industry boss called on the Government to help solve a shortfall in lorry drivers.

Speaking to the PA news agency, BMPA chief executive Nick Allen blamed the Government’s immigration policies for staffing challenges faced by many companies.

He told PA that on average BMPA members are around 12%-13% short on staff, with one company missing about a fifth of its workforce.

“Some of the pig processors are having to cut down on how many pigs they are processing a week so that’s starting to have an impact back on the farm.

“We are cutting back and prioritising lines and cutting out on things, so there just won’t be the totals of Christmas favourites like we are used to.”

He said usual demand for pigs in blankets – sausages wrapped in bacon – reaches about 40 million packets, but a shortage of labour to make them could mean production is cut by a third.

Supplies of gammon could also be affected, he added.

Supply issues have also hit McDonald’s, with the burger chain running out of milkshakes and bottled drinks across its 1,250 outlets in England, Scotland and Wales.

A spokesman said the group is “working hard to return these items to the menu”.

He added: “Like most retailers, we are currently experiencing some supply chain issues, impacting the availability of a small number of products.

“Bottled drinks and milkshakes are temporarily unavailable in restaurants across England, Scotland and Wales.

“We apologise for any inconvenience, and thank our customers for their continued patience.”

The group is understood to have temporarily halted selling milkshakes and bottled drinks to ensure supply across its broader menu in the face of the haulage and supply chain troubles.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “The UK faces a shortfall of 90,000 HGV drivers and it is consumers who will ultimately suffer for this.

“So far, disruption has been minimal thanks to the incredible work by retailers and their suppliers.

“Retailers are increasing pay rates, offering bonuses and introducing new driver training schemes, as well as directly supporting their suppliers in the movement of goods, but Government will need to play its part.

“We are calling on the Government to rapidly increase the number of HGV driving tests taking place, provide temporary visas for EU drivers, and to make changes on how HGV driver training can be funded.”

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