Slaughterhouse shortages 'may mean local meat is wasted - with Christmas turkeys and pigs-in-blankets frozen and imported instead'

There’s enough meat being bred on our doorstep for Christmas dinner – but a shortage of slaughterhouse workers and delivery drivers means our pigs-in-blankets and turkeys may have to be imported instead.

Tuesday, 5th October 2021, 9:54 am
Updated Tuesday, 5th October 2021, 9:56 am

Blackpool pig farmer Wayne Baguley, 63, said he has “plenty” of animals, though he warned some may be culled – with their meat wasted – because of bottle-necks elsewhere.

He said: “The issue is the slaughterhouses are not taking the numbers because they are saying they haven’t got the staff ... because a lot of the Europeans have gone back. Plus they don’t have the drivers to deliver.”

Nick Allen, chief executive of the British Meat Processors Association, said Christmas turkeys are likely to come from the Continent this year due to labour shortages in Britain following Brexit.

An undated file image of a Christmas turkey (Picture: Alexander Raths/Adobe Stock)

Elsewhere, a resort butcher admitted his meat may be frozen and imported.

He said “We’ve been making some calls in the past couple of weeks to check we’ll have supplies for Christmas, and luckily we don’t think there’ll be too much of an issue.

"But if we end up not being able to get the supplies, it doesn’t matter to us where the meat comes from. We’d rather sell meat from other countries at Christmas than sell nothing at all.”

While meat producers have also warned labour shortages could affect the ability to get turkeys onto plates this Christmas, the head of supermarket Morrisons, which has large branches at South Shore and Cleveleys, said supply chain issues have been “slightly overblown”.

Andrew Higginson brushed aside speculation recent challenges could affect Christmas trade and he thinks it will be a “good” festive season for customers.

Asked if he has any concerns over the impact of supply pressures on Christmas, he said: “No, we aren’t worried, it tends to come every year.

"And everyone appears to be ready for it so I think it will be a good Christmas for people – they will want to treat themselves as they usually do.

"There are logistical issues at the moment and those are well publicised and slightly overblown.

“Supply chains in the UK are incredibly efficient and I am sure we will be able to deliver a great Christmas for customers as we go through.”

It came as Chancellor Rishi Sunak said he can’t “wave a magic wand” to make supply chain problems go away.

He said the Government will do all it can to “mitigate” global supply issues but he conceded there is disruption and did not rule out Christmas being affected.

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