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In an open letter published in The Guardian, 30 food and drink associations have warned that food prices could rise in the UK if the industry does not get continued access to EU workers.
The letter, which was signed by the Food and Drink Federation, the Associations of Cereal Food Manufacturers and the British Beer and Pubs Association, urged the government to offer reassurances for workers about their rights to remain in the country.
"The government should offer unambiguous reassurance to EU workers throughout our supply chain about their right to remain. For the longer term, it is important to recognise that these workers are highly flexible and provide an essential reservoir of skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled labour," the letter stated.
Approximately four million people in the UK are employed in the food industry, working in everything from production to harvesting. Just under a third of those workers come from within the EU.
The trade associations also warned that the UK’s food security could be at risk with many workers already leaving in the wake of Brexit vote and because of the drop in value of the pound.
"All options should be explored, including a workable points-based system for shortage occupations, sector-based and seasonal/guest worker schemes and effective transitionary arrangements," the signatories said in the letter.
In response, a Home Office spokesman for the government said: "We want to see net migration to the UK fall to sustainable levels - the tens of thousands. But we recognise this is a complex issue and that there is no quick fix. As we draw up our plans to leave the EU, we are harnessing industry’s knowledge and experience and ensuring their voice is heard."
This article is a piece of independent writing by a member of Procurement Leaders’ content team.