A landmark UK Brexit survey has revealed that companies active in Britain's farm-to-fork sector expect to face a serious lack of workers, should there be an abrupt reduction of employees from the EU post-Brexit.
In a fresh study released Thursday, the UK's Food & Drink Federation warned the country's 110-billion-pound (128-billion-euro, $151-billion) farm-to-fork sector could face serious problems should the current Brexit negotiations not result in a good deal for EU nationals working in Britain.
The landmark survey looks at the food industry from a workforce perspective and highlights the severity of the situation that the UK food and drink supply chain is confronted with "without reassurances regarding the future of EU workers" in the country. The industry currently employs 4 million people.
The study says there are 2 million EU nationals across the UK economy. Some 20 percent of these workers are employed in the food and drink supply chain.
Almost half of the businesses surveyed say EU nationals are considering leaving the UK due to uncertainty surrounding their post-Brexit future.
Over a third of businesses say they will become unviable, if they have no access to EU workers, with 17 percent of respondents adding they will look to relocate overseas, should they have no access to EU nationals.
The survey points out that the British government has been clear in its desire to "reduce net migration." But it warns that the food sector will face a grave workforce shortage and skills gap "which cannot be solved overnight."
"Our supply chain is aware, though, of the expectations to reduce reliance on EU workers and is focused on upskilling workers wherever possible locally within the UK, with a strong emphasis on building skills through apprenticeships and investment in technology to support automation," the survey said.