The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has called on the Government to ensure the UK continues to have access to skilled labour from the European Union in light of Brexit.
The call to protect a key element of the food industry’s workforce was included in an open letter to new Prime Minister, Theresa May, in which the FDF set out priorities for the negotiations on the UK’s new relationship with the EU.
It noted that around 27% of the UK’s food and drink manufacturing workforce are non-UK EU nationals representing almost 100,000 workers. The FDF said EU workers provide a “highly valued solution to our skills gap”, which has the potential to undermine the sector’s future growth if not addressed.
The manifesto also called for continued tariff-free market access for both UK food and drink exports and imports of raw materials; a regulatory framework that ensures the continued confidence of consumers and industry; and a business environment that is focused on increasing competitiveness and reducing regulatory burdens.
“Our partnership with UK Government has never been more important to keeping food prices stable, protecting UK competitiveness and securing a skilled workforce for the future,” said FDF Director General Ian Wright.