Sainsbury’s CEO Simon Roberts has called for roles in the food supply chain to be added to the Home Office’s shortage occupation list to help tackle labour issues in the sector.
Roberts has warned that labour shortages could lead to higher food prices for UK consumers, The Times reported.
He told the publication: “Our supplier colleagues still point to some real challenges in getting hold of the skilled workers that they need.
“We’ve got to make sure there are no labour shortages because that can put pressure on food availability, which in turn puts pressure on prices.”
“Making sure that we do everything we can to have the labour to pick, produce and pack the food we need is incredibly important,” Sainsbury’s CEO concluded.
If there are not enough UK residents to fill vacancies working on farms or in factories, employers would be able to recruit workers from outside the European Economic Area by adding these roles to the shortage occupation list, without having to advertise the position and prove that there is no suitable worker in the country.
In the first half of 2022, the National Farmers Union (NFU) found that over £60 million-worth of fresh produce had gone to waste, £22 million of which was lost as a direct result of workforce shortages.
Its survey found that 40% of respondents in the horticulture sector suffered crop losses as a result of labour shortages and on average for the 2022 season, businesses experienced worker shortages of 14%.