IGD - Economics bulletin 31 August

Date : 31 August 2021

Your overview of political and economic news with a focus on the food and consumer goods industry, featuring the latest developments and guidance on COVID-19 and adapting to a new relationship with the EU.

Labour availability report

Organisations from across the food and farming sector including the National Farmers Union and Food and Drink Federation have produced a new report - Establishing the labour availability issues of the UK Food and Drink Sector. The report highlights an average vacancy rate of 13% and estimates there are more than 500,000 vacancies across food and drink businesses.

The report includes a set of ‘asks’ for UK Government and the devolved administrations. These include:

  • The introduction of a 12-month Covid-19 Recovery Visa
  • Commitment to a permanent, revised and expanded Seasonal Worker Scheme
  • An urgent review by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) on the impact of ending free movement on the food and farming sector

DEFRA is keeping under review absence levels in all parts of the food supply chain and is requesting businesses complete this absence tracking survey as frequently as possible.

Labour shortages impacting shopper availability

Although absence rates relating to COVID-19 are thought to be falling, broader operational labour and HGV driver shortages are continuing to create challenges for supply chains.

This is resulting in lower order fulfilment levels than normal, meaning there is an impact on availability of some food and groceries.

Shopper research conducted for IGD over the weekend of 27-29 August reveals a significant increase in the number of adults (62%) who experienced shortages of some food and groceries in-store or online recently, up from last weekend (56% -20-22 August).

More adults (38%) have recently felt the need to stock up or purchase more than they normally do, up from 31% last weekend.

See the full results here.

Despite the operational challenges due to labour shortages, there are sufficient food supplies within the system and any impact on overall availability has been limited to date.

Young people vaccinations toolkit

The government has produced a toolkit for businesses to encourage the uptake of vaccinations among younger people. NHS England are offering large businesses opportunities:

  • To share NHS messaging and social media assets
  • To vaccinate staff of all ages as near as possible to (or preferably at) their work location.
  • To provide their unvaccinated staff (all ages) the chance to have a conversation with local health professionals

Imports of products of animal origin

From 1 October products of animal origin and all regulated plants and plant products will require pre-notification and health documentation to be imported into the UK.

Between 1 October and 31 December 2021, businesses can self-apply the derogation for pre-notification of consignments into Great Britain. Businesses will be able to take advantage of the derogation and notify no less than four hours in advance of arrival at the port of entry, without any need to contact the relevant competent authority.

Register here for a series of webinars with panel of experts.

See the Key dates for UK-EU transition and support for businesses

More economic news and analysis

Sign up to our bulletin

Our round-up of the latest economic and political news, focused on FMCGs