The mild winter has brought on the English cauliflower crop faster than normal. The varieties planted for February are designed for frosts which there has been very little of and the mild weather has resulted in some quality issues. This combined with the cost and lack of labour is resulting in crops being ploughed back into the ground.
“Cauliflowers currently costs over £2,000 an acre to grow, out of 200 acres grown here we have lost and ploughed in 10 acres in January-February alone due to a combination of mild weather and lack of sales. It’s not just cauliflower, but also carrots, parsnips and white cabbage, yields are up, and prices are down, while input costs and labour is more expensive,” explains Shane Talling from Veg UK.
“Retailers need to pay growers more, which they are now starting to do, fresh produce has always been cheap so instead of offering low prices and promotional prices, retailers should be promoting ways to make cheap veggie meals, giving consumers new ideas of how to make meals using fresh veg."
As a grower it is more difficult than ever to plan what and how much to grow. Will there be demand? Will there be labour or will they have to plough crop in again?
“Just as for everyone else grower’s costs are going up and with the unrest in Ukraine the gas price will continue to increase. It is a very worrying time for all growers, not just those in the UK. Packaging, labour, transport and fertiliser prices will continue to rise, and its frightening where prices will end up.
“Brexit has also made it very expensive for us to export produce, with the cost of loads increasing by around £600 just for certificates and import/export documents alone.”
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