It has been a very problematic season for UK growers; potatoes that should have been harvested weeks ago are still in the ground. Brassicas such as cauliflower, sprouts, and cabbage had a very bad start to the season with wet weather in July during planting, this was in total contrast to 2022, when it was very hot, up to 40 degrees in some places.
“The weather in Spain has also been less than ideal and this combined with an early end to the UK summer brassica season due to heavy rain caused a gap in supply,” said Jack Ward CEO of British Growers. “This is the direct impact of climate change on the food supply chain, not only in the UK but also in Europe and further afield.”
Looking to the Christmas vegetable supply Jack said that growers have been supplying the Christmas market for a long time and are very adept at dealing with the pressures. “What doesn’t help is pre-Christmas discounts, which stimulate buying and puts more stress on supply. This may lead to growers harvesting more now to meet demand, and then we may see shortages in February and March.
“This is a difficult season on top of previous difficult seasons, with increasing costs, and if growers are putting in their all and not seeing the returns, it can really erode grower confidence. Cauliflower in 2015 was £1, they are now selling at £0.95p in one major retailer, this is reflected in the comparisons for other vegetables. There is just not enough money in the systems to reward everyone, including the retailers.”