Britons may find festive favourites like pigs harder to come by this winter as industry labour shortages continue to bite, the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) warned. They could be in short supply this Christmas as a result of post-Brexit issues.

BMPA chief executive Nick Allen blamed the Government’s immigration policies for staffing challenges faced by many companies.

He said today that on average BMPA members are around 12 per cent to 13 per cent short on staff, with one company missing about a fifth of its workforce.

“Some of the pig processors are having to cut down on how many pigs they are processing a week so that’s starting to have an impact back on the farm.”

“We are cutting back and prioritising lines and cutting out on things, so there just won’t be the totals of Christmas favourites like we are used to.”

He said the usual demand for pigs in blankets – sausages wrapped in bacon – reaches about 40m packets, but a shortage of labor to make them could mean production is cut by a third. Supplies of gammon could also be affected, he added.

Meanwhile, a retail industry boss called on the Government to help solve a shortfall in lorry drivers which has contributed to product shortages across the UK.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “The UK faces a shortfall of 90,000 HGV drivers and it is consumers who will ultimately suffer for this. So far, disruption has been minimal thanks to the incredible work by retailers and their suppliers.”

“Retailers are increasing pay rates, offering bonuses and introducing new driver training schemes, as well as directly supporting their suppliers in the movement of goods, but Government will need to play its part,” Dickinson said.

“We are calling on the Government to rapidly increase the number of HGV driving tests taking place, provide temporary visas for EU drivers, and to make changes on how HGV driver training can be funded,” she concluded.

McDonald's has temporarily taken milkshakes off the menu throughout the UK due to supply chain issues. 

"Like most retailers, we are currently experiencing some supply chain issues, impacting the availability of a small number of products," a McDonald's UK and Ireland spokesperson said in a statement to Insider. "Bottled drinks and milkshakes are temporarily unavailable in restaurants across England, Scotland, and Wales. We apologize for any inconvenience and thank our customers for their continued patience. We are working hard to return these items to the menu as soon as possible."

The change affects all 1,250 British McDonald's locations, according to the Associated Press

The supply chain issues are believed to be caused in part by a truck driver shortage.

Road Haulage Association, a trade group for truck drivers, estimates that Britain currently has roughly 100,000 fewer drivers than it had before the pandemic, according to the Associated Press. The association added that COVID-19 restrictions have kept many potential truck drivers from taking their driving tests and thus stalled them in getting on the road.

Immigration rules following Brexit are also partly responsible for the truck driver shortage.

McDonald's is not the only fast-food company grappling with supply chain disruptions in the UK. KFC said earlier this month that some items might be unavailable at some UK stores and packaging might look different, thanks to "some disruption over the last few weeks." Last week, Nando's shut down roughly 50 stores across the UK because of supply chain disruptions due to "staff shortages and Covid isolations."

In the US, companies like Chipotle, Subway, and Wendy's have dealt with shortages of key ingredients at some locations, Reuters found. In June, Starbucks temporarily put orders for at least 25 items on hold due to supply chain issues, Insider's Mary Meisenzahl reported.