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Suffolk potato and onion grower confronted with huge rises in storage costs

A Suffolk potato and onion grower has been confronted with huge rises in storage costs to dry and store his harvested vegetables over winter. Woodbridge farmer James Foskett has to cure his onions and some will be stored for many months, but costs have increased enormously as energy prices soar.

Storage costs have leapt up from about £16/t to what he is estimating will be something in the region of £90-95/t - and he is expecting to harvest around 8,000 tons of onions this year. This would take him from £128k to £720k or more.

James grows about 50 acres of seed potatoes. His potato storage costs will also see big increases from about about £30/t to £80-90/t for these. "So the energy charges will really start to bite," he says. "There's slightly less energy used in storing potatoes and we don't store them as long," he says. Most will go in January to February.

This all means that price talks on crops will be crucial this year. Foskett won't be growing some of his vegetables without a 20% uplift next year because of the inflation in costs he is facing across a range of inputs including his red diesel, now at about 105p/litre, energy, fertiliser and wages. Because of these, his margins are tight.


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