Is foreign weather really causing fresh food shortages?
Extreme weather conditions seem to be all we report on recently, but what is really going on? Exactly what affect is the weather having on fresh produce sold in the UK? And when can we expect to see things change? Lets take a look at the facts...
Spain was hit with an incredible drought last year and temperatures hit record highs throughout 2022 and 2023, with some parts of the country reaching a scorching 38.8 degrees - This almost unbearable heat, not only halted the growing of crops, but also killed a lot of them, leaving many farmers with fields & fields full of dead plants. As if a drought wasn't enough, they were then hit with a cold spell, with snow covering some of the most important growing areas like Almeria in Southern Spain. This beautiful area is known as "The Garden Of Europe", where Tomatoes, Broccoli, Peppers and Aubergines are grown under vast plastic tents that can literally be seen from space! This all happened a few months ago so what's happening now? Well, things don't seem to be much better, dead crops, trucked-in water and disappearing lakes are still a daily issue across Spain and with news reports suggesting another heat wave, another produce shortage across the UK could be imminent.
Now that we've taken a look at the issues in other countries, what's happening in the UK? The weather is (and always has been) very unpredictable in England, as Brits we quite often joke about how at times, we can enjoy every season in one weekend but recently it has been having a dire affect on the amount of fresh produce available on our supermarket shelves. Many UK crop producers had to delay planting this year because of the cold weather, why? Because if they were to plant in the cold they would be reliant on heating and lighting glasshouses and with energy bills soaring, this is not an option for a lot of farmers. Those who did plant waited until late March to avoid these costs but that pushed production back by a significant amount and there were some big gaps in supply; you may remember the Tomato shortage a while back... Nobody could get them and those that did, paid a fortune; Well that all stemmed from weather issues!
The National Farmers Union adviser, Christine McDowell, said: "British growers continue to face significant cost increases, such as energy and labour, and many simply cannot afford to keep producing food with the current returns".