• Struggling to recruit? How hiring managers can tackle the UK food industry labour shortage.

    • Labour Shortage

      It has been widely reported by both the media and food manufacturers, that a severe labour shortage is happening in the UK. From the production lines through to logistics, Brexit and the ‘Pingdemic’ combined is taking their toll on staff numbers.

      Food and beverage manufacturing is the largest manufacturing sector in the UK, and even before the pandemic, it was predicted that the sector would suffer a skills shortage as a result of Brexit alone.

      An FDF Industry report (2020) states that EU workers make up over a quarter of the workforce. Combined with their prediction that the sector will need 140,000 new recruits by 2024, this has resulted in recruiters finding it harder than ever to find the right staff for their businesses.

      And now with the ‘Pingdemic’ forcing staff to self-isolate, the pressure is even higher.

      How can businesses tackle this?

      As a hiring manager, there are several tactics you can utilise to keep your recruitment processes running smoothly and, most importantly, secure that valuable candidate!


      The competition for talent is high. Candidates do not like to wait around, especially if one of your competitors can act quicker than you…

      Think about whether there is the possibility of speeding up your recruitment process? Are there current barriers or processes currently slowing down the time it takes from interview to hire?

      Our advice is that if you have found the perfect person for your vacancy, take quick decisive actions! Do not delay in progressing them to the offer stage – otherwise someone else will and you may miss out.

      Candidate Experience

      Creating a positive experience for your candidates can be another decisive factor for candidates. If there is something in your recruitment process putting them off, then try to rectify it - manage their expectations.

      Glassdoor states that the top factor of what constitutes a positive experience is feedback – whether successful or not. If feedback is not received, a candidate may never apply for one of your vacancies in the future.

      We know this is not always possible, but a simple acknowledgement that they will not be progressed can make a big difference. Interview feedback is always expected, and again do not take too long in providing this.

      Keep open and timely communication, provide them as much information as possible such as job descriptions, how many interviews to expect and in what format (face-to-face, video, telephone etc.) If a presentation is expected at any stage, make this clear upfront.

      Even if your recruitment process is longer than desired, be clear about this from the start. Providing timescales will alleviate candidate frustration and make them less likely to drop out of the process.

      Keep an Open Mind

      A Hireserve report (2021) states that “over half (58%) of candidates would not apply for a role if they didn’t feel they could meet all of the job criteria.”

      Are your essential criteria actually essential? Could you train this candidate in certain areas of the role? Being too strict with requirements will narrow down your talent pool, in an already competitive environment.

      Finding a candidate with a good work ethic, values and company fit is extremely valuable in the current market, as these qualities cannot be taught.

      Investing in these candidates will create loyalty and in turn, they will then have high job satisfaction as they will feel they have progressed and learnt new skills.


      It’s basic economics – the higher the demand for a product (or in this case, a person) the higher the price.

      We know budgets are tight or have been reduced.  However, if there is some room for negotiation on salary either immediately (or perhaps a guaranteed increase in their contract), it could make the key difference to whether you can secure your crucial hire or not.

      Our advice is to be flexible - if you can. If you have no control over remuneration, then try speaking to the managers who do – communicate how being competitive on salary will help attract and secure top talent and help drive your business forward – and be a good return on investment!


      If you cannot offer a higher salary due to budget constraints or existing salary levels in place, then think about whether there is anything else you could do to entice your candidates?

      Salary is not everything. Most job seekers look past the figures on paper and think more about what their working life will look like and their ongoing happiness in a role.

      A Glassdoor report states that 47% of workers want a good work-life balance. Can you offer flexible working hours or could the candidate work from home at all? Working from home has now been normalised for many and this may be a key criterion for them when deciding whom to work for.

      Given the fact that 48% of candidates also want an easy commute, this reinforces how important this may be.

      Other benefits are also important to job seekers. A majority (70%) of the Hireserve respondents agreed that staff benefits are important.

      If your company offers benefits such as additional annual leave, healthcare, bonuses, discounted products, childcare vouchers, enhanced pension, social events or even just onsite parking, make all benefits clear upfront.

      Think about what your company can offer the candidate above your competitors? Why is it a great place to work? Start making a list and include this information in your job adverts.

      If your company provides a standard benefits package, communicate this to all involved parties – including any recruitment agencies.

      Other important factors

      Do not forget to mention if your business is committed to diversity and inclusion, is ethically sustainable, sources responsibly, committed to helping the environment or support a charity.

      Candidates want to work for a company that aligns with their own personal values. Who they choose to work for is a reflection of themselves and this information can influence their decisions when searching for a role.

      b3 jobs

      If you are still struggling to recruit, then let b3 help you.

      Established over 20 years ago, we are very honest and friendly experts within food manufacturing recruitment.  Our absolute main aim is to find the right person for the job, and the right job for the person - that way everyone wins.

      Call us on 01435 866000 or email us at food@b3jobs.co.uk to see what makes us different.

    • Comments:
      • David Ingram says:27th July 2021 08:24
        Very succinct and timely!
      * required
      * required (Will not be published)
      Your post has been sent for moderation and will appear once approved.