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November 17, 2021

Turkey supplier Bernard Matthews to hire 900 workers under UK visa scheme

The workers are being recruited from Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Romania and Bulgaria.

Turkey supplier Bernard Matthews has greeted the UK government’s temporary visa scheme with a plan to hire 900 factory workers ahead of Christmas.

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Owner Ranjit Singh Boparan, the businessman behind 2 Sisters Food Group, the country’s largest poultry processor, said the EU workers are due to arrive in the “coming days”. The new staff will help Bernard Matthews service demand for turkeys at plants in East Anglia in the east of England.

“With just a few weeks to go until Christmas, it is very good news to be able to report that here we are in mid-November, and we’re well on the way to plugging the job gaps for the massive volume increases we get during this time of year,” Boparan said.

“Our teams have been working incredibly hard to process almost 900 applications for the seasonal worker scheme and we’ll be seeing the first arrivals at our factories in the coming days. This means we should be able to fulfil all our projected orders for turkeys and there will be enough turkeys to go around.”

Amid serious labour shortages as a result of Brexit and Covid-19, the UK government announced in September it would ease visa rules for up to 5,500 poultry workers and 5,000 heavy-goods-vehicle drivers from October up to Christmas Eve. Boparan has taken advantage of the scheme by hiring workers for his turkey factories from Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Romania and Bulgaria for the busy Christmas season, when demand for staff typically rises by as much as 400%, he said.

The so-called ‘chicken king’ has been vocal in recent months over the labour shortages 2 Sisters and its meat-processing industry peers are facing post-Brexit. He has also been spoken publicly about how consumers might have to get used to higher prices in the face of rising input costs amid warnings from turkey suppliers over a possible shortage of birds for the festive season.

“We can sometimes be quick to criticise and challenge the Government, as I have done myself on several occasions, but we also need to say thank you when we think they’ve got it right and they deliver. The bottom line is that this has helped us save Christmas, not only for us, but all producers in this sector, and of course for the consumer,” Boparan said today (17 November).

He called on the Government to repeat the visa scheme next year, but with an earlier start date, as “it would be silly to plug any gaps by using imports”.

Sky News reported this week that Boparan was reportedly seeking to raise GBP50m (US$67.1m) from hedge funds to help his group businesses navigate the labour shortages. A spokesperson told Just Food the company had “nothing to add”.

 

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Free Whitepaper
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What is the impact of historically high inflation on the UK consumer landscape?

The average UK consumer is experiencing a severe cost-of living crisis as inflation surges to a forty-year high and the price of goods continues to rise. This shock is the result of the sharply increasing costs of commodities, energy, and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, and is threatening FMCG manufacturers, retailers, and foodservice operators’ ability to survive and grow. Inflation will have a profound effect on many consumer-facing industries in 2022 and beyond. Consult GlobalData’s new whitepaper, Inflation in the UK: The Impact of Historically High Inflation on the UK Consumer Landscape, to better understand shifts in consumer behavior and their impact on spending patterns, as well as the implications for UK businesses. This whitepaper covers:  
  • Why has global inflation returned with a vengeance?
  • What is the current inflation situation in the UK?
  • What impact is inflation having on UK retail sales?
  • What tactics are businesses relying on to tackle the effects of high inflation?
  • How are consumers changing their behaviors to cope with the higher cost of living?
  • Which industry sectors are most vulnerable to reduced consumer demand?
  • How is the government responding to high inflation?
  • How long will high inflation last in the UK?
  • How can your company survive and thrive in a high inflation environment?
Enter your details here to receive your free whitepaper and ready your business for these increasingly uncertain times.
by GD50 Custom
Enter your details here to receive your free Whitepaper.

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