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Brexit would hit food manufacturers hardest, report warns

14 March 2016

A quarter of the workforce in the food manufacturing sector would disappear if the UK were to leave the EU, researchers have warned.

EU workers make up 26.9 per cent of the food manufacturing workforce and 11.3 per cent of workers in food and beverage services. That compares with 6.1 per cent across the UK economy as a whole. 

The findings were part of a report by the Food Research Collaboration on how a ‘Brexit’ would impact the UK food manufacturing sector. 

It also found that the UK is only 60 per cent food self-sufficient and the country relies heavily on EU imports. 

For example, nearly 40 per cent of the UK’s total food supply of fruit and vegetables comes from the EU, and nearly 55 per cent of its supply of pigmeat.

“The decision will affect the entire UK food system and all of our daily lives,” said Professor Tim Lang, Director of the Centre for Food Policy at City University London, and Chair of the FRC. 

“Food prices will almost certainly go up, affected by a weakened sterling. 

“If the people vote for Brexit, there’ll need to be a ‘dig for victory’ on an unprecedented scale. And this won’t be using the EU labour that currently grows, picks and processes so much British food.”

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