How Brexit threatens Britain's summertime strawberries

Agence France Presse

Posted at Jun 22 2017 10:40 AM | Updated as of Jun 22 2017 10:43 AM

How Brexit threatens Britain's summertime strawberries 1
Strawberries. Reuters

LONDON, United Kingdom - Brexit has brought uncertainty to millions of people and sent the pound plummeting, but the EU divorce could also hit Britain's sweet taste of summer -- strawberries.

With Brexit talks now under way, there are fears Britain will cut the number of European pickers which play an essential role in bring strawberries to picnics nationwide.

"This is as extreme as it gets," said Laurence Olins, chair of industry body British Summer Fruits which published a new Brexit report on Thursday.

"It is inconceivable that people who voted to leave the European Union wanted to destroy an iconic and incredibly competitive British horticulture industry, and see the end of buying British produce," he added.

The study by British Summer Fruits estimates 95 percent of Britain's 29,000 seasonal workers hail from European Union countries, predicting demand will rise to 31,000 by 2020.

A parliamentary paper published earlier in June said the figure was far higher -- with around 75,000 temporary workers during peak seasons, of which 98 percent were from the EU.

A drop in fruit pickers travelling to the UK could lead to fewer strawberries being grown in the country, casting a cloud over the British summer.

In a further dent to national pride, Britons would have to rely on imported strawberries -- and stomach price rises of up to 50 percent.

The British Summer Fruits report calls for a permit scheme to allow European pickers to work in the UK for short-term contracts after Brexit, protecting the industry from labor shortages.


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