Workforce concerns raised over the Brexit impact on foreign workers on the food and drink sector echo worries highlighted by the UK hospitality sector.

A report by the Food and Drink Federation found that more than a third (36%) of businesses surveyed would become unviable if they had no access to EU workers.

And almost a third (31%) of businesses had seen EU nationals leave since last year’s Brexit referendum.

An estimated two million EU nationals work across the UK economy, with 20% of these employed in the food and drink supply chain.

Commenting on the workforce report, British Hospitality Association chief executive Ufi Ibrahim said: “The findings of this survey strengthen those of our KPMG report published in March which highlighted that Britain’s hospitality industry could face staffing shortfalls of up to 60,000 people per year after Brexit.

“There is a clear and urgent need for the UK Government to secure the rights of EEA [European Economic Area] nationals living here and to ensure there is no labour cliff-edge when the UK leaves the EU.”

She added: “The industry already has over 100,000 job vacancies at any given time and the BHA has been clear about the risks to the growth of our industry if there is an abrupt end to freedom of movement from Europe.

“It is concerning that these staffing shortfalls could be replicated throughout the food chain.

“We recognise that immigration levels will come down in the years ahead and in response have developed a ten year strategy to encourage more British people to work in our industry.”