The price several food stuffs is expected to rise in the new year as the flooding in northern England hits the supply of winter vegetables such as potatoes, cauliflowers and cabbages. Official data released on Friday revealed a “great deal of uncertainty” around the fate of a 10th of the country’s potato crop as farmers count the cost of the deluge that has overwhelmed parts of South Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and the Midlands.
“There are increasing reports of crops being abandoned or farmers halting lifting but remaining hopeful that they might salvage something in the spring,” said analysts at the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) in their weekly update. With some potatoes rotting in standing water, the report adds: “There remains a great deal of uncertainty over the fate of the crop area yet to be lifted. An estimated 2-3% of the area is expected to have to be completely written off.”
Lincolnshire is also behind 60% of the domestic brassica crop, which runs to cauliflowers and cabbages at this time of year. The British Growers Association (BGA) said sodden ground was making it difficult to get the produce out of the fields, with cauliflowers hardest hit – repeating a situation seen over the summer.
Jack Ward, the BGA chief executive, said: “The conditions underfoot are seriously wet so moving around is incredibly difficult. The actual rate of harvesting is much slower so there is less product available and there is evidence to suggest cauliflowers are running short. Cauliflower is sensitive and there is a colouration issue; the spec is brilliant white, which is difficult when you are knee-deep in mud.”
Last year’s potato crop was the smallest for six years, with growers harvesting 1.1m fewer tonnes than the year before. The full extent of price increases as a result of the floods will not be known until the end of the month, but analysts at the food price analysts Mintec said the price for potatoes in the UK were 8% higher in the first week of November than last month.
According to theguardian.com, the poor 2018 harvest has already put pressure on crisp prices this year with KP-owned brands such as Hula Hoops, McCoy’s and Tyrrells seeing increases ranging from 9% to 22%.
Vernon Mascarenhas, director of the Covent Garden wholesaler Nature’s Choice, which supplies 400 restaurants in London, said the supply of some domestically grown vegetables was tightening, with Savoy cabbage, in particular, hard to obtain.