Wales politics

Post-Brexit food worker shortage plan needed, warn AMs

Packaged Welsh lamb on the shelves in Morrisons
Image caption The importance of identifying food as Welsh was stressed to the committee

Welsh ministers must clarify "as a matter of urgency" how they will address any reduction in EU workers in the food and drink industry after Brexit, an assembly committee has said.

The report says food producers worry proposed UK government changes to immigration policy "could lead to a significant shortage of workers".

Meat Promotion Wales (MPW) said more than 50% of meat processing workers were migrants, mainly from the EU.

Welsh ministers were asked to comment.

MPW also told the Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee 90% of abattoir vets were EU nationals.

The committee's report "Rethinking food in Wales: Food branding and processing" also calls on the Welsh Government to develop a clear Welsh identity for the food and drink industry.

Committee chair and Swansea East AM Mike Hedges said: "We know from consumer surveys that eight out of 10 Welsh shoppers would always buy Welsh produce if the price is right.

"We need to make sure that it is easy to identify and access Welsh produce, both domestically and internationally."

"The challenges presented by Brexit makes this even more urgent," he added.

A number of industry figures told the committee it will be important to maintain a Welsh rather than a British identity in European markets in the future because Brexit has had a negative impact on the reputation of the UK in many countries.

The Welsh Government has been developing a new post-Brexit food strategy but the committee called for clarity on when it would be published.

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