6th October 2022
Regenerative agriculture AgriHub
EMEA Horticulture

UK Horticulture Survey Reveals Labor Shortages

UK Horticulture labour shortages

The Seasonal Labour in Horticulture Survey is a voluntary, quarterly online survey that asks farms with horticulture how many person days their farm business needed from seasonal labor, and how many they actually used each month. Seasonal labor is defined in the survey as ‘those employed full-time or part-time on a casual / as required basis. The survey began in early 2018 to assess any potential shortfall in seasonal labor on farms with horticulture.

The new survey from DEFRA reveals an important labour shortage

The survey response rate for the second quarter was 20%.

In the second quarter of 2022, out of the 512 farms with horticulture that responded, 341 had no need for seasonal labour (67%). Of the 171 survey respondents who did need labour, 45% reported a shortfall (Figure 1). The average shortfall for the entire quarter per farm with horticulture that needed seasonal labour was 114 person days. This equates to an 8% shortfall.

The average need for labour increased throughout the second quarter from 292 person days in April to 648 person days in June. The average shortfall increased from 24 person days in April to 46 in May and then decreased to 44 in June (Table 1).

Figure 1: Breakdown of survey respondents with horticulture who needed seasonal labour and had a shortfall: April to June 2022

Table 1: Average quarterly and monthly need, use and shortfall per farm with horticulture for survey respondents with a need for seasonal labour: April to June 2022

Person days needed Person days used Shortfall (Person days) Shortfall (%) Shortfall (People per day)
Quarter 2 (n = 171) 1,432 1,318 114 8 1.3
April 292 269 24 8 0.8
May 492 445 46 9 1.5
June 648 604 44 7 1.5

Notes

  1. Figures relate to average per farm with horticulture.
  2. Shortfall (People per day) is based on a 30 day month and 90 day quarter.

n: the number of survey respondents who needed seasonal labour within the quarter.

Figure 2: Average person days needed and used per farm with horticulture from January 2021 to June 2022 for survey respondents who needed seasonal labour

Note: The survey did not run in Quarter 4 2021 and Quarter 1 2022 due to the low seasonal labour requirement and low response rate.

Figure 2 shows significant increases in the need for seasonal labour for each month throughout quarter 2 in 2022, whereas in 2021 the average need for labour gradually increased.

Table 2 shows the quarter 2 figures for 2018 to 2022 for comparison The average person days needed and used by respondents in quarter 2 of 2022 was significantly higher than the same quarter in 2021, but the percentage shortfall for the quarter decreased from 16% in 2021 to 8% in 2022. The average person days needed and used in 2022 return to similar levels as in 2018 and 2019.

The lower figures in quarter 2 of 2021 are likely a result of the continued lack of seasonal labour available during and after the coronavirus pandemic. However, the response rate for quarter 2 of 2021 was lower than expected compared to quarter 2 in the other year’s shown and these results should be treated with caution.

Table 2: Average quarterly need, use and shortfall per farm with horticulture for survey respondents with a need for seasonal labour: in quarter 2 of 2018 to 2022.

Year Person days needed Person days used Shortfall (Person days) Shortfall (%) Shortfall (People per day)
2018 Quarter 2 (n=264) 1,541 1,457 84 5 0.9
2019 Quarter 2 (n=228) 1,236 1,170 67 5 0.7
2020 Quarter 2 n/c n/c n/c n/c n/c
2021 Quarter 2 (n=150) 694 582 113 16 1.2
2022 Quarter 2 (n=171) 1,432 1,318 114 8 1.3

Notes

  1. Figures relate to average per farm with horticulture.
  2. There is no data available for 2020.
  3. Shortfall (People per day) is based on a 30 day month and 90 day quarter.
  4. The quarter 2 response rate was 16% for 2021, compared to 23% in 2018 and 20% in 2019 and 2022. This was lower than expected, therefore results should be treated with caution.

n: the number of survey respondents who needed seasonal labour within the quarter.

n/c: not collected

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