Tulip, which is among the leading meat processors in the UK has is experiencing staffing problems, making it necessary to move staff across the country in order to make up for the shortage of available labour.

Food Manufacture quoted the company’s chief executive Steve Francis lamenting how Brexit’s impact on the availability of non-UK European Union nationals was becoming what he termed as a “huge concern”. He said that the government should provide short-term support to businesses in order to ease the transition period.

“We are seeing a very clear impact of the concern around Brexit in our factories and on our farms. It varies a lot by region, but there is a real tightness in the labour market”, the Tulip boss said.

He further said:  “There have already been situations where we have had to bus workers around districts, and even outside districts, to make sure we’ve got the people we need in our factories.”

Francis revealed that the firm was overhauling its apprenticeship and graduate schemes in response the escalating problem.

Tulips parent company Danish Crown hires about 7,000 employees in its 16 manufacturing locations. It also rears 1.5M pigs yearly on its farms.

“D eeply engaged’ with the UK government

Tulip and parent company Danish Crown were – according to Francis – “deeply engaged” with the UK government in regards to the Brexit process.

As part of a fact-finding mission to get a better understanding of Denmark’s agricultural systems, the newly appointed Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Minister Michael Gove paid a visit to a Danish Crown plant in Horsens, Denmark in August. After meeting Gove Francis said that he was encouraged by his commitment to understanding how Brexit has affected the food and farming businesses.

Francis added: “From his tone, there appears to be a serious desire to understand the needs and concerns of food businesses”.

Prime Minister Theresa May called for a two-year transition period which Francis believes is not enough. He thinks a period of at least 3 – 4 years would be necessary. According to him, “a cliff-edge” Brexit in March 2019 was currently a “very unlikely outcome”,

He was quoted saying:  “I suspect both sides of the negotiating table will soften their positions, and there will be a pragmatic resolution – but it will take longer than a couple of years.”

Reverse the tumbling sales at Tulip

Francis is reputed for turning around ailing businesses and was hired by Tulip one year ago to reverse its tumbling sales.  The firm reported a loss of £21.8M for the year to September 30 2016.

Speaking to Food Manufacture last month, he said that Tulip had reversed to a trading profit after the business strategically refocused more towards customer needs.

The Tulip boss went on to exclusively reveal that Danish Crown planned to make an investment to the tune of £70M in purchases, equipment and product innovation in the company over the next 1 year.

Tulip announced later in September of a deal to acquire Easey Holdings, Suffolk-based pig producer to enable it meet the growing demand for high welfare pork.  But in July it was disclosed that there was going to be a loss of 118 jobs at the company’s King’s Lynn site in response to the dwindling volumes of cooked meat.