Director of the British Retail Consortium (BRC), Andrew Opie warns that if the current labour shortages are not taken seriously “retailers will end up offshoring production.”

Speaking at a session of the UK Trade and Business Commission, Opie said that the sector was “struggling” amid the current workforce shortages.

According to a report by the BBC, Opie went on to say that “despite every effort that’s being made by food factories”, businesses in the sector “cannot recruit enough indigenous people.” Opie added: “They just do not want to do those roles for whatever reason.”

BRC’s director explained that the shortages had left the government with a choice: “Does it want to maintain the level of food manufacturing as it stands at the moment in this country, or does it risk offshoring that production to other countries and then we import those finished goods into the UK?”

He continued: “We’ve got a very highly skilled, well run food manufacturing sector in this country at the moment which exports quite widely. It’s under such strain at the moment and if we cannot recruit people and fill those vacancies, then retailers who buy those products to sell to us as consumers will need to look elsewhere and will end up offshoring some of that production into places like Europe.

“I think the government faces quite a stark choice here about where it wants to put its resources, where it wants to put its immigration policy, and where it wants to put the economy, in terms of the products that are manufactured here in the UK.”