The British Growers Association has called for an urgent reset in returns for vegetable growers to ensure future continuity of supply, warning that the future of British vegetable production is under threat as UK growers face mounting production challenges and falling prices. A report commissioned by the BGA into UK carrot and broccoli production highlights that spiralling costs and extreme weather conditions are threatening even short-term viability. In April the average rate of inflation for agricultural inputs was 28% driven by massive increases in fuel, energy, labour and fertiliser. Meanwhile, retail prices for vegetables were in many instances lower than five years previously.
The effects of drought and record temperatures in the months that followed further compounded grower problems, with many key vegetable growing areas recording minimal rainfall since the start of June.
BGA CEO Jack Ward said: “Unless growers can see a way of securing viable returns for the risks they take in growing vegetables, they will turn to other lower risk options such as growing other less risky crops like wheat, sugar beet, energy crops or even converting more land to solar farms and we are already starting to see this. We urgently need a reset in the way UK vegetable growers are rewarded to ensure the risks from weather and the inflationary costs are more equitably shared across the supply chain.”
“This situation is not confined to the UK. Other parts of Europe which have traditionally supplied the UK when domestic production was short are experiencing similar issues with production costs increases and record temperatures.”