SUPPLY issues affecting restaurant chains such as Nando’s and KFC are nothing to do with the “pingdemic” and everything to do with Brexit, one of the UK’s largest poultry suppliers has said.

Avara Foods, which supplies around five million fresh and frozen birds to supermarkets and restaurants across Britain every week, hit out at the problems caused by the UK’s exit from the EU in a damning statement.

In it, the company says that disruption to the supply chain is “an issue totally separate to the pandemic”.

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Avara says that Brexit seems to have caused a “structural change” in the UK’s labour market which will offer problems far into the future, and also that their industry is not alone in experiencing such issues.

A statement from the company, which reports an annual turnover of around £800 million, reads: “Our company is not currently experiencing any significant inconvenience regarding the ‘pingdemic’. Colleague isolations, relative to our size, are low.

“Our concern is recruitment and filling vacancies when the UK workforce has been severely depleted as a result of Brexit; this is causing stress on UK supply chains in multiple sectors.

Labour availability is an issue totally separate to the pandemic, and one which has the potential to affect UK food manufacturing for a lot longer - a similar story can be seen in the hospitality industry where vacancies are outstripping the available workforce.

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“We're monitoring the situation closely and are putting in place measures to mitigate the strain on our supply chain, but this can only go so far. It looks increasingly like this is a structural change in the UK labour market, which shows no obvious signs of being resolved quickly.”

The firm’s concerns were echoed by Richard Griffiths, the chief executive of the British Poultry Council (BPC), who told Sky News that Brexit-related staff shortages are to blame for the industry’s current woes.

“The labour crisis is a Brexit issue," Griffiths said, adding that the poultry industry is currently reporting vacancies of more than 16%.

The National: Boris Johnson holding a chicken

The BPC boss also blamed Boris Johnson’s government for the “alarming” number of gaps.

He said that these shortages will “only continue to grow due to a government that continually acts against the best interests of British food producers”.

Sky News reported that the BPC has contacted the Home Office about the issues but has yet to receive a response.

The news from the poultry industry follows that from the Road Haulage Association (RHA).

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Rod McKenzie, the RHA’s managing director of policy and public affairs, said that around one-fifth of the 100,000 shortfall in truck drivers across the UK was directly due to EU nationals leaving after Brexit.

He said that increased bureaucracy at border crossing was also putting EU drivers off entering the UK.

"If the 'pingdemic' hadn't happened, we'd still be in trouble," he previously told CNN.

KFC and Nando's are two of the restaurant chains which have been reporting food shortages due to the ongoing supply chain disruption.

KFC tweeted on August 11 to say that shortages meant some items would not be available or would come in different packaging to normal.

Nando's was forced to close almost 50 sites across the UK due to shortages in its chicken supplies.

A government spokesperson said: "We have well-established ways of working with the food sector and are working closely with them to ensure businesses have the labour they need.

"We are looking at ways to help the sector recruit more domestic labour and invest in automation in order to reduce the reliance on migrant workers coming into the UK."