Covid-19 has seen a spike in labour costs of up to 15 per cent leaving British growers in an ‘unsustainable’ situation, a new report has revealed.
According to a report by Andersons, the increase follows an additional 34 per cent rise in labour costs over the past five year across the horticultural sector.
It comes after horticultural chiefs warned an estimated shortfall of about 80,000 workers and the subsequent spike in costs of labour had been ‘exacerbated’ by a lack of returns paid for British produce.
NFU horticulture board chairwoman Ali Capper said: “These startling figures demonstrate the challenges growers have faced during the Covid-19 crisis.
“On top of significant seasonal labour recruitment challenges, growers are seeing productivity levels decline, costs rise and returns from the market fall.
“It will not be long before this becomes unviable for many farm businesses and they will have to significantly reduce or halt investment in their business.”
Pointing to the greater need for supply chain fairness, Ms Capper reinforced the industry, from the farmgate to the retailer, needed to work together to spread risk and take ‘opportunities’ to grow more home produce.
She added: “This report also provides yet another piece of crucial evidence that we can present in our engagement with Government about how fruit, veg and flower growers will be supported through these challenging times.