According to the latest Defra statistics, the UK vegetable sector has shown strong growth in values with total trade worth more than £2.2bn in 2017. The value of home-grown vegetable produce increased by 3.3% to £1.5bn in 2017, driven by a 4.9% rise in production to 2.7m tons. Most of that production was in field-scale operations which showed growth of 5.9% in volume compared with the previous 12 months. Yields were also boosted by good soil conditions and warm weather although the continuing dry period hampered later-planted crops.
Despite the dry weather, the overall increase in production saw values rise by 4.2% (£44m) to £1.1bn. The extra growth came mainly from a rise in the planted area of about 4% to cover 118,000ha (291,000 acres). Sales of protected vegetables increased, but only slightly by £2.7m.
However, the modest increase in value was achieved on lower production levels, which were down in 2017 for the second year in a row to 297,000t – a fall of 2.5% compared with 12 months earlier.
Despite the increase in home production, total supply of vegetables in the UK was down 0.6% to 4.8m tons as imports dropped by more than 7.5%.
Overall, the value of imports and exports of fruit and vegetables was up. Vegetable exports hit a record high at £111m (up 1.8%) despite a 16% decline in volumes traded in 2017. Import figures also dropped (down 7.8%) but the value traded rose by 4% to £2.4bn in 2017.