Food sector groups have warned that without government assistance, the UK will face a “worsening food supply chain crisis.”; The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has urged the government to commit to maintaining the country’s food self-sufficiency at 60%. On December 14, 2021, the NFU has called a summit of organizations to explore the challenges. Staffing shortages will be considered as well. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) issued the following statement: “The government acted quickly to tackle the challenges to our supply chains”.

Throughout the pandemic, rising living costs, rising energy prices, and labor shortages have all added to the stresses on the food business. According to the renowned international agency, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, businesses have struggled to hire workers, partially because of the pandemic, but also due to Brexit. “Britain’s farmers are world-leaders in producing climate-friendly food and, over the past 18 months, have been working hard to keep shelves and fridges full despite many being impacted by severe supply chain issues,” said NFU President Minette Batters. “Government has tried to paper over the cracks with short-term fixes, but if we want to avoid this crisis continuing, long-term solutions are urgently needed to ensure a resilient supply chain,” she added. The British Retail Consortium’s director of food and sustainability, Andrew Opie, also urged the government to provide a “clear strategy” for addressing labor shortages as well as a “coherent food policy” to retain UK production. The government has increased the number of visas available under the agricultural Seasonal Workers Pilot scheme to 30,000, according to a Defra spokesperson.