Inquiry Into The Meat And Poultry Processing Sectors

We are launching the findings of our review of progress made by the meat and poultry processing sector since we launched our inquiry report in 2010. The inquiry found mistreatment and discrimination against migrant and pregnant workers in particular. Our review highlights clear signs of progress, which we are pleased with, particularly in light of the difficult economic environment. It also reveals that significant problems still exist within some firms. We have also launched the guidance below to help firms tackle some of the remaining challenges, and to support the meat and poultry processing sector to understand their obligations under the Equality Act.

"The food and drink manufacturing industry is the largest manufacturing sector in the UK. The meat and poultry sector is a significant part of this, employing 67,500 people; 30 per cent located in the East of England and East Midlands. The meat processing sector is of particular importance to the Welsh economy, employing 5,700 people and contributing a turnover of £600 million a year".

Improve, Food and Drink Manufacturing and Processing. Labour Market Information 2011-12 and Improve Wales Sector Skills Assessment 2010-2011

Inquiry timeline 2008-2012

Management practices: supplier standards

Inquiry findings

The inquiry gave us the opportunity to examine how people working in this industry are recruited, and how they are treated once they are at work. Through questionnaires, interviews and consultation with individuals and organisations we were able to gather broad and authoritative evidence that has formed the base of our findings report.

The report reveals evidence of the widespread mistreatment and exploitation of migrant and agency workers in the sector, and makes recommendations to the key bodies - supermarkets, agencies, processing firms, government, regulators and unions – which we believe will encourage a systemic change in behaviour.

In addition to the report, we have created a supplementary set of in-depth findings about each of the main problem issues for agency workers in the sector, and our recommendations how to address them.

Last Updated: 06 May 2014