The lack of butchers is just one of a number of areas where Britain is facing acute labour shortages.
Last month, it announced plans to issue temporary visas for 5000 foreign truck drivers and 5500 poultry workers, but the government wants businesses to invest in a British workforce rather than rely on cheap foreign labour.
Ministers have also been keen to downplay suggestions that Britain’s exit from the European Union was the main issue hitting labour in the supply chains.
Many workers in the pig industry had gone home during the pandemic and simply not returned, Eustice said.
“It’s a complex picture: there have been lots of market disruptions, problems with access to the Chinese market, maybe some overproduction – here production is up by about 7 per cent – and yes, labour has been an aggravating factor but it’s not been the only factor,” Eustice said.
“The pig industry, and in common with many parts of the food industry, has seen a loss of staff as many of the EU citizens that they relied on left during the pandemic – nothing to do with Brexit.”
As part of the measures to address the problem with the lack of lorry drivers, he said cabotage rules for EU drivers would be relaxed so that they could do as many trips as they liked over a two-week period.
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