Consumers were facing increased prices and more imported produce on shelves after a ‘perfect storm’ of weather conditions hit crops across the UK, market specialists said.
The price of a loaf of bread could rise on the back of climbing wheat prices and carrot growers were entering unknown territory as they failed to fulfil contracts.
And while the public looked to eat more salad in the sunny weather, growers were struggling to meet the increased demand, with wholesale lettuce prices soaring.
WHEAT prices have risen on the back of the heatwave after the weather triggered an early harvest and pushed down yields.
Henry Matthews, higher education lecturer at Writtle University College, Essex, said consumers would likely pay these increased costs for wheat products, such as bread.
The price of wheat has risen by £20-£30 per tonne.
“It is the spring crops which are suffering most as they have shallower roots. I was at a sugar beet farm recently that needs a lot of water,” said Mr Matthews.
He added while farmers growing crops such as potatoes or onions would have the necessary irrigation, few cereal growers had access to it.
BRITISH carrot growers were well-respected globally for being able to grow ‘the nation’s favourite vegetable’ all year round, but the combination of spring’s excess rain and the hottest summer since 1976 will lead to the lowest yields and highest amount of imports.
Rodger Hobson, chairman of the British Carrot Growers Association, warned it was ‘almost inevitable’ prices would go up.
But what would happen with contracts and prices for growers was less clear.
“Really, as an industry we have got so good at doing what we are doing,” he said.
“This is new territory for me. I have never seen anything like this before.”
But there could be trouble for imports, with a farmer in Holland telling him there were no large carrots in Holland.
And there would also be complications from a straw shortage.
“It is going to be an interesting year,” he added.
SALAD demand has soared 40 per cent in the hot weather, with a record 18 million lettuces sold in the last week in June.
But Dieter Lloyd, spokesman for the British Leafy Salad Growers, said the record temperatures had stopped UK lettuces growing.
“In all the major growing areas, from Cupar in Fife, through Preston, Lancashire, to Ely in East Anglia, and Chichester, Sussex, the hot weather has affected all our growers,” said Mr Lloyd.
This has led to increasing imports and wholesale prices have soared, with lettuces up from £4.80 per box to £9.60.
POTATO crops could be facing lower yields and quality issues, if the dry weather continued.
Growers went into the season in ‘a very healthy position’ in terms of water availability but the issue now was growers’ capacity to irrigate, according to Dr Rob Clayton of AHDB Potatoes.
“A further challenge is evaporation has been outstripping the rate at which growers can get moisture back in the soil,” he said.
Common scab was also a worry for many growers if the crop did not get enough water, with growers making tough decisions on which crops to prioritise.
Dr Clayton said: “Dry conditions continuing may mean lower yields and shift in the balance of supply and demand. The end result would be a firming of the market price around harvest.
“In this situation, minimising damage at harvest will become increasingly important to growers.”
He added wet soils would be important, with further advice available online from AHDB Potatoes.