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UK: Broccoli price up 25% due to heatwave

Shoppers face higher prices for fruit and veg because the heatwave has left crops ‘cooking in the fields’.

Vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, peas and onions have been dramatically affected by the soaring temperatures and lack of rain. Total harvests are down, with produce smaller than normal and more likely to carry signs of heat damage. As a result, growers have asked retailers to relax their rules on the size and shape of produce they will accept.

The supermarket price of broccoli, at £1.54, is up by 25.8 per cent a kilo compared with a year ago – after the high temperatures have simply stopped the plants growing, according to research published by The Grocer.

As temperatures soar to 34C (93.2F) in some parts of the country today, food suppliers warned of the effect of the heatwave in the fields.

Paul Murphy of Yes Chef, which supplies produce to restaurants, said: ‘Broccoli is cooking in the fields. Farmers can’t get them out of the ground quick enough before the sun yellows them. We’ve not experienced anything like this in decades.

‘The prices we expect to see over the next couple of weeks could be nothing compared with what’s in store for autumn if the heat has done the damage growers think.’

And Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: ‘The hot, dry conditions we have seen … means the pressure on prices will continue for some time to come.’

The price of a kilo bag of own-label carrots is some 8.3 per cent more than last year, at 65p on average, while a pack of three large onions is up 3.5 per cent to an average of 75p.

An iceberg lettuce is now 52p on average, which is up from 49p at this time last year. However, while sweltering temperatures are expected today, farmers may soon have some respite.

By this evening, thundery showers are set to hit the South-East, bringing lightning and up to an inch of rain in just two hours.

Meanwhile, cloudy and cooler conditions, including rain, are due in northern and western areas today. The fresher weather will spread south and east as the weekend approaches. Warmer conditions are not due to return until at least the middle of next week. However, the Met Office still predicts the UK could see warmer-than-average temperatures continuing into the autumn. The outlook shows an increased chance of high-pressure systems, meaning settled conditions are more likely than unsettled for the next three months.

The top temperature in Britain has been over 75F (24C) for 44 days in a row up to and including yesterday. Of those 44 days, some 27 have seen temperatures of at least 85F (29.4C), while eight have been at least 90F (32C). The hottest day of 2018 record has been broken six times within the period - including on four days in a row in June. The lowest reading in the 44-day period was 75.2F (24C) on July 28, while the highest was 95.2F (35.1C) two days earlier

Publication date: 8/10/2018



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