New season English carrots will be available from next week from Suffolk and a couple of weeks later from Nottingham-shire.
It has been a tough year so far for the growers with torrential rain and flooding at the start of the year and now COVID-19 and very dry weather.
“At the moment we are packing Spanish carrots,” explains Alan Hunt from FreshGro. ”We haven’t had to import carrots for the last two years, but we finished two weeks early as volumes were down by around 10-20 tonne per acre. This was down to the conditions caused by the torrential rain.”
In addition to the weather, packing was also more challenging and added cost, but according to Alan increasing costs and less returns is an ongoing problem for growers.
Drilling the new crop started late, but went well after some reasonable weather, there was three days of wind which blew some of the crop out though.
The current situation is making things challenging for everyone. Social distancing in packhouses means less throughput and more cost as packhouses are working extended hours and having to pay premium wages.
“Spanish carrots are not cheap either,” said Alan. “Transport is expensive, especially just now. Normally they would be trucked up from Spain then the truck would load something else for the return journey, but there are no backloads to Spain at the moment. We are loading them onto containers hips and shipping them here.”
Imported carrots are also not as fresh as locally grown ones and this causes its own problems down the line as not all buyers understand this.
“On the whole though the new season is looking very positive, the retail market is strong, and we will be able to sell good volumes.”