A Home Office spokeswoman said: "The programme will offer these groups a legal route of entry into the UK by providing them with work permits for low-skilled jobs. It was proposed as an extension of the seasonal agricultural workers scheme in the Immigration White Paper, published in February."
The project is due to be launched in the next few months and other areas with recruitment problems, such as the hospitality sector, have also been looked at as candidates for the scheme.
After an initial consultation period running from May to August, the project is in its second stage, with the government discussing implementation with the industry. The Home Office said it had no plans as yet to involve retailers in the programme.