Many experts are forecasting a much-increased risk of food shortages in the UK, both in the near term and for many years ahead. The immediate reasons for this arise from covid and Brexit, the major ongoing reason is climate change.
Many agricultural and horticultural producers in the UK and across Europe have been forecasting problems with harvesting labour-intensive crops this year, because covid rules have severely restricted mobility across borders, and Brexit has greatly aggravated that in the UK.
On top of this, there are now reports that the UK has a major shortage of HGV drivers, estimated between 85,000 and 100,000 drivers by the chief of the Road Haulage Association. This shortage of drivers is severely aggravated by post-Brexit rules which have dramatically cut the ability of HGV drivers from Eastern Europe to work in the UK. The main impact of this shortage will be on food supplies, particularly fresh and chilled foods. The Road Haulage Association, UK Food and Drink Federation, and others have written a letter to the Prime Minister explaining why urgent action is needed. For more details, see this feature in the June 26 Guardian.
Richard Burnett, the chief executive of the Road Haulage Association, says, “We are weeks away from gaps on the shelves, it is as serious as that.” Let’s hope that the Government and food retailers can avoid this crisis, but we know that our food supply chain is highly vulnerable to such problems when our food is travelling so far to reach us.
This situation underlines why Bridport Food Matters sees increasing local production as such a priority. Whilst local production of vegetables and fruit is a prime need, as these are the most vulnerable categories, many other imported food products could be vulnerable over the coming years. If you have land which could be available for cultivation within a few miles of Bridport, or if you are a grower looking for land, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.