UK: storm of Covid, Brexit, and the Ukraine war leads to worsening shortage of soft fruit pickers

A bowl of freshly picked strawberries may be a staple of the great British summer, but the soft fruit sector is facing tough times this year as finding seasonal workers becomes ever harder.

A perfect storm of Brexit, Covid, and war in Ukraine has meant the crop of people willing or able to come to the UK to work temporarily this summer has dwindled.

Farmers have had to look further afield to find seasonal workers, and this has meant more time and energy is having to be spent training people, which in turn is reducing productivity.

Chris Rose, chief operating officer for Asplins Producer Organisation, a large soft fruit co-operative of 11 farms throughout the UK, said: “It’s been a big concern. Before the strawberry picking season got underway, there were worries whether they would have enough people in time.”

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