Scottish abattoirs are reporting a shortfall of up to 10% to 12% when it comes to filling vacancies, the newly elected president of the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW) has said.

Taking up the post, Alan McNaughton maintained that the shortage of abattoir workers has been compounded by the recent hot weather putting demand for barbecue products “through the roof.”

Scottish abattoirs blame the shortage of staff on Brexit, which has made it less appealing or impossible to work in the UK.

“It is an area which desperately needs to be sorted by the Home Secretary. One member told a recent SAMW executive committee meeting that the labour shortage is now his number one concern, which is quite a statement, given the COVID-19 pressures under which all businesses have been operating since March 2020,” said McNaughton.

He also referred to reports that a free trade agreement (FTA) will soon be concluded with Australia, and highlighted a particular concern that this becomes a template for deals with the likes of Brazil and the USA.

“We cannot, for example, accept products being imported into the UK which do not abide by our own high standards of health, welfare, and safety. A future FTA structure in which everything is welcome if the price is right, will damage our domestic industry beyond repair,” he said.