A BBC survey sent out recently to British Leafy Salad Association and British Summer Fruits (which together represent a majority of the country’s fruit and vegetable farmers) found that 78 percent of respondents reported that finding enough seasonal workers for this year’s harvest season had been more difficult than last year.
British Summer Fruits cited this year’s labor shortages as the worst since 2004, and many in the industry believe Brexit is to blame, the BBC reported. Each year, around eighty thousand workers migrate to the U.K., primarily from Romania and Bulgaria to harvest fruits and vegetables. The numbers were already waning, but the mid-2016 decision to leave the European Union has contributed to the perception of the UK as “unfriendly,” or more bluntly, “xenophobic” and “racist,” said the director of an agricultural recruitment company to The Guardian.
If the shortage of seasonal workers continues, British Summer Fruits estimates that the price of some fruits could increase significantly, or even double.