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Tim O'Malley - Nationwide Produce

Supply of greenhouse crops will improve, but field crops will be very short

The supply situation on greenhouse crops is likely to improve in a few weeks’ time but not back to any form of normality – still tight on supply and a lot higher price than normal, according to Tim O'Malley, Group Managing Director Nationwide Produce. He said the next big issue will be UK field crops.

"The prolonged frost, pre-Xmas, wrote off literally thousands of acres of field crops such as carrots, parsnips, cauliflower and cabbage. With most of these crops, we usually have a short import window measured in weeks. Not this year! We could have an import window of up to 3 months."

Onions are also very short Tim said he has never known them to be in such short supply and prices are literally at a record high.

"It’s nothing to do with the frost! It’s all about the heatwave and drought we suffered this summer. The UK crop is down from around 450,000 tonnes to 350 – so down around 100,000t. That’s 4,000 articulated lorry loads extra that we need to import. The price today for a 4kg bag of Dutch onions is £825/tonne and rising on an almost daily basis. The normal price for this time of year is around £250-280/tonne.

"Over the coming months, we will be importing heavily from Egypt, New Zealand, Tasmania, South Africa and Chile. We’ve got a major shortage of onions. However, we’ve known about it for a long time and have been able to plan for it. So, it doesn’t necessarily mean shortages but it does certainly mean a lot higher prices.

"As a nation, we import around two-thirds of our fresh produce. My forecast for this year is we’ll import around three-quarters – 75%," concludes Tim.

For more information:
Rebecca Fox
Nationwide Produce PLC.
Tel: +44 (0) 1386 424800 

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