Horticulture Labour Barometer

The AHDB Horticulture Labour Barometer provides information on real time labour requirements from a sample of edible horticulture producers in England and Scotland. The edible horticulture sectors sampled are field vegetables, soft fruit, tree fruit and protected edibles. The aim of the Horticulture Labour Barometer is to provide industry and government with independent evidence to establish the reality of the impact that the Coronavirus pandemic is having on labour availability.
Updated 7 August 2020

Introduction

This release covers the results of the Horticulture Labour Barometer up to and including Monday 27 July.

In total, 42 edible horticulture producers have opted in to contribute to the Horticulture Labour Barometer. When asked in the week ending 29 May, this sample of growers require approximately 23 thousand seasonal workers in total this year. A breakdown of contributors by sector and by region is shown in the table below. Please note the sector total is greater than the total number of contributors as some businesses in the sample grow for more than one sector. Over the period up to Monday 27 July, between 37 and 42 companies and co-operatives submitted a response with results each week. Please note as of week commencing 13 July, contributors have been contacted on a fortnightly basis, instead of weekly.

Total number of contributors by sector and region

  

*East (East of England and East Midlands), **West (West Midlands and South West), ***North (Yorkshire and North West)

Labour Requirements

  • When asked in the week ending 29 May about seasonal labour requirements for the whole year, the 42 growers in the sample require approximately 23 thousand seasonal workers in total. As at Monday 27 July, 85% of companies said their total seasonal labour requirements for the year has remained the same compared with week commencing 13 July (Figure 1).
  • 13% of those asked, said that their total seasonal labour requirement has decreased compared with week commencing 13 July. The main reason behind the decrease is due to fluctuations in harvest and the volume of crop to harvest.

Figure 1: Changes in total seasonal labour requirements

  • As at Monday 27 July, 85% of companies have met their season labour requirement for this point in the season. This is compared with 77% as at 06 July (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Proportion of companies meeting their seasonal labour requirements

  • Figure 3 shows the proportion of companies meeting their seasonal labour requirements broken down by region and sector. As at 27 July, all of the contributors who grow tree fruit were meeting their requirement for that point in the season. The majority of growers from the other three sectors are also meeting current requirements. The data shows that all companies in the North have met their requirements, with a high proportion of growers from the other sectors also sourcing enough labour for this point in the season.

Figure 3: Proportion of companies meeting their seasonal labour requirements by sector and region

  • As at 27 July, 16.6 thousand seasonal workers were required for that point in the season by the 40 companies who submitted a return. As can be seen in Figure 4, only 12.9 thousand workers were required as at 13 July. This requirement is smaller compared with other weeks, due to only 37 companies submitting a return for that period.
  • As shown in Figure 2 above, 15% or 6 of those companies had not met this requirement. In total, these companies were short by just over 750 workers as at 27 July (Figure 4).

Figure 4: Total seasonal labour requirements and shortfall by week

  • The average shortfall in seasonal labour of those companies who currently are not meeting requirements is 14.7% short (7.5% as at 06 July). Compared with the total labour requirement of the whole sample, the current shortage is 4.5% compared with 2.1% as at 06 July (Figure 5).

Figure 5: Percentage labour shortfall of those not meeting labour requirements and of the total sample

  • For those companies who are currently experiencing a shortage in seasonal labour some are reporting that this is not causing an impact as of yet, while others have said it has started to limit/delay harvest. Some growers have offered overtime to try and cover the shortage.

Confidence in sourcing seasonal labour

  • Out of the 40 companies who submitted a response, 98% were either fairly or very confident that they will be able to source all seasonal labour that is required for the remainder of the season, compared with 90% as at 06 July (Figure 6).

Figure 6: Confidence of companies in sourcing all required seasonal labour this season

Description of seasonal labour

  • As at 13 July, contributors were asked a supplementary question around the nationality of the seasonal labour they employ, as well as whether there have been any changes this year compared with others due to COVID-19. 73% of companies’ best described their seasonal workers as all/mainly non-UK residents, compared with 11% employing all/mainly UK residents. When comparing the split of workers to previous years, 51% of companies said it was similar to other years, while 43% of companies have employed more UK residents.

Figure 7:  Description and changes to seasonal labour

Download the latest Horticulture Labour Barometer report

Get involved

If you are an edible horticulture producer and would like to take part in the Horticulture Labour Barometer you can sign up directly via our helpline on hort.labour@ahdb.orguk or telephone: 024 7527 1600. The team is available to answer and questions that you may have. All information provided is kept confidential, with all results aggregated and anonymised before release.

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