Farming and meat industry bosses across the country have warned MPs that a fall in workers could see a shortage of UK-produced turkeys during the festive period.

Bosses have told both the Department for Environment and the Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) Select Committee that the pandemic has contributed to non-UK workers leaving, resulting in a sudden decline in staff numbers.

The chairman of the British Poultry Council, Graeme Dear has advised MPs that there is a “likelihood” of a shortage in the UK-produced meat, suggesting that the product may need to be imported from Europe.

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: A lack of workers is seeing a decline in turkey production. (PA)A lack of workers is seeing a decline in turkey production. (PA)

Will there be turkeys at Christmas?

With bosses across the sector waring MP’s of the meat shortage, the Government has put in place some measures to try and avoid the lack of product, but there is a suggestion that more needs to be done.

With Graeme Dear telling MP’s that “we have been given access through the seasonal worker's scheme for up to 5,500, but that finishes on December 31”.

Adding that the sector “would have loved to know about that in June, and therefore could have placed enough turkeys for a full Christmas”.

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: The bird may have to be imported from across Europe. (PA)The bird may have to be imported from across Europe. (PA)

But all hope is not lost as Mr. Dear has said that they will do their “utmost to make sure that Christmas is as normal as it can be, but there is a likelihood that there will be a shortage-had we known back in June or July, that would have been fixed”.

Mr Dear added that “90% shortages are in the processing plants” and that there was some irony behind the lack of meat as they now have to “import turkey from France and Poland for a British Christmas”. This is also where some of the workers the British sector trained are now working “after they left to go back to their homelands” due to the pandemic.