green core food factory production line sandwiches

Firms that rely on EU nationals to work in the food chain, will struggle if there is any further reduction, the BSA has warned

A decline in EU nationals coming to the UK has triggered an increasingly critical shortage of workers in the food industry, according to the British Sandwich Association.

The BSA has urged the government to clarify its position on immigration and to avoid introducing excessive restrictions or bureaucratic controls that could stifle the flow of EU workers.

Migration figures published by ONS this week found that the number of EU citizens coming to the UK to work fell by 35,000 in the year to November 2017.

The BSA, along with the Pizza Pasta & Italian Food Association and the Café Life Association, has warned that any further reduction in EU workers will damage chances of maintaining required service levels.

“From restaurants and takeaways to manufacturing, many are already struggling to fill vacancies,” says BSA director Jim Winship.

“Indeed, walk down any high street and the evidence can be seen in the number of signs in windows for staff - many more than we have seen for years.”

He added: “The food industry is a major contributor to the UK economy - the sandwich and food-to-go sectors alone provide hundreds of thousands of jobs and turn over in excess of £20bn annually. We rely heavily on people to maintain these industries and we are extremely concerned that the politics of immigration could rule at the expense of the economic case for maintaining a viable workforce.”

The Associations have proposed that the government should introduce a work-based visa system tied to a specific job, which would expire if they left employment.

They say that this would make monitoring and controlling immigration much simpler and more manageable.