The average UK family shopping bill is set to soar by £786 if pesticides are banned, with fresh fruit and vegetables subject to the biggest price rises, according to a new report.
Research commissioned by the Crop Protection Association found feeding a family of four would cost an extra £15 a week, or £786 a year, if farmers are no longer able to access plant protection products (PPPs).
The cost of fresh fruit and vegetables would increase the most, by around 40 per cent or £4 per week, making it more expensive for people to get their five-a-day, with possible knock-on impacts for public health and the NHS.
Staples such as bread and breakfast cereals would cost a two-child family almost £140 more every year, while the price of fresh meats would go up by £60.
The average household bill for alcohol and eating out is also projected to rise by about £92 a year, with the biggest increase for takeaways and snacks, at an extra £24.
Sean Rickard, the independent economist who carried out the research, said: “The removal of plant protection products would present a severe challenge to already hard-pressed households, exacerbate income inequalities and make healthy eating more expensive.”
The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates that 26-40 per cent of crop yields are lost to pests and diseases, and projects a doubling of such losses if PPPs are banned.
Sarah Mukherjee, Crop Protection Association chief executive, said: “This reports shows plant protection products are essential in maintaining the supply of affordable food for families across the UK.
“Poorer households with children spend a much higher proportion of their weekly expenditure on food, meaning their budgets will be squeezed even further if PPPs are threatened.
“UK farmers need every tool in the box, including pesticides, if they are to provide high-quality, safe, affordable food.”