The pork industry have warned that Christmas will present “new issues” over labour shortages despite the government issuing 800 visas for foreign butchers.
The government has boosted additional butchers from abroad and last week issued up to 800 visas for foreign butchers.
Mike Sheldon, pork sector board chairman of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board said despite the visas being issued this will not solve all the problems.
Sheldon told the PA news agency, “These butchers must be recruited and trained; it will take between two and four weeks to do all of that, so it is just the start.
“The devil is in the detail, but it should mean an increase in the slaughter of pigs. Our latest data showed the backlog stopped growing or grew just a little bit so there have not been big inroads so far.
“From now until the middle of December the situation should start to ease little by little but will remain a problem for producers who are trying to deal with the number of pigs on farms.
“There are likely to be new issues around Christmas and New Year’s Eve, when abattoirs will see a reduction in staff due to holidays and extra days off.
“It will take time to get back on track in clearing this backlog.”
Zoe Davies, of the National Pig Association, said, “It will take a while to get butchers in and they’ll probably be up to speed by the start of December.
“There will also be some bank holidays over Christmas with the industry likely to lose three days of slaughter, which won’t help with this backlog.
“This should all be about getting pigs off the farms as quick as possible as everyone is well behind where they want to be.”