Written evidence submitted by Apple and Pear (LS0059)
2021 Labour Survey - Initial Results
31 respondees, approximately 17.5% of the British apple and pear growers. Please note, many are still picking the 2021 crop.
Labour Shortages and Worker Origin
Narrative feedback from Growers
There is real concern that labour shortages have resulted in each variety being picked later than the optimum picking dates require, which has compromised the quality of the fruit, and will lead to fruit deteriorating faster in coldstores. This will mean that growers/packers will fail to meet their full supermarket programmes. This is a real concern as it may also damage the perception of British fruit quality in the minds of consumers.
“Packhouse teams were diverted to pick fruit”
“Labour, the future cost and availability, is the reason we are cutting back on planting”
“Returnees are not there”
“The biggest story is the recruitment costs. In previous years I have recruited out of Bulgaria: returnees and a few others. Virtually nil cost to my business. Now to employ SAWS employees I have to register with an Agency (£400) and then pay another £230/employee. The cost is significant. One of the SAWS employees only stayed for 5 days. The cost further sticks in the throat given that all the SAWS employees I had were already in the UK on a SAWS VISA and were transferring from another farm because that farm had finished picking. All at the expense of the Grower.”
“The amount [of] hollow promises, let downs we had by agencies were horrendous. There were many wasted days trying to recruit. The last-minute rush to get labour in to pick the fruit was not something we would like to repeat. Historically, we would employ direct from Europe with a few English coming from local adverts. Last year we were very lucky to have local furloughed workers to pick the fruit. Agencies were letting us down completely and local uptake was minimal, the locals we did employ only lasted a matter of hours. Without Fruitful Jobs, we wouldn’t have got our crop picked this year, this said 30% of these pickers were not experienced and very slow.”
* Calculation: 1,462 apple and pear waste tonnes reported in survey from 31 (responders). 31 responders represent 17.5% of the entire industry. Total industry waste = 1,462/17.5 x 100 = 8,354 tonnes, or 8,354,000 kg, or 8,354,000,000 grams / 123g per apple or pear = 67,918,699 individual apples or pears / 365 days in a year = an apple or pear a day for 186,078 children
** Assumes that the national crop is 170,000 tonnes
*** Price of 6 pack in Tesco = £1.60; 8,354 tonnes @ 95% class 1 grade out = 7,936,300 kg @740 grams/pack = 10,724,729 packs x £1.60 = £17,159,566