Peterborough fresh produce boss warns tough weather will force up price of vegetables

A director of a Peterborough vegetables supplier has warned that shoppers face a hike in the price of fresh produce as farmers battle months of tough weather.

Sunday, 22nd July 2018, 7:00 pm
Carrot processing at Produce World in Yaxley. EMN-140703-153512001

Andrew Burgess, group agricultural director at Produce World, in Yaxley, says a combination of the Beast from the East followed by a long hot summer has led to a shortage of carrots and other vegetables.

It means prices will rise as farmers offset losses, and as imported vegetables replace UK losses.

Mr Burgess, whose company supplies 20 per cent of the fresh carrots bought in supermarkets each year in the UK, said: “The situation is serious for us.

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“This is the worst and most horrible winter and spring ever.

“As a result the carrots are late going in the ground. Carrots need nice soil, nutrition and plenty of water.

“They require two inches of water a week and we’ve not had any rain since April.

“If we irrigate we are only allowed to put on one inch of water a week. That costs us about £1 million a year.”

He added: “Already yields of carrots in the fields are five per cent to 10 per cent less than they should be at this time of the year.

“And I know of a supplier who has one field where all the carrots are dead.”

He said: “This is an industry of tight margins and low profits, and prices will have to be adjusted. There will be some very difficult commercial decisions to be made.

“The price for carrots in the shops is the lowest it has ever been, but those prices will have to rise.

“To make up the shortfall carrots will have to be imported from Holland, Denmark and France, which will also lead to rising prices.”

He said it was a similar plight for other vegetables like potatoes, onions, broccoli, cauliflower and sprouts.

“It’s too early to say exactly what the impact will be - we are on fixed price contracts and it could be disastrous.

He added: “But if get some rain the situation might not be as bad as we fear.”

Rodger Hobson, chairman of the British Carrot Growers Association, said: “The major carrot growers unanimously agree that the poor yields will massively push up UK production costs and that substantial imports will be required this season.

“Carrots are undoubtedly the nation’s favourite vegetable. However, it is likely the price in the shops will go up.”