Heatflation: Britain on brink of vegetable shortage amid record-breaking temperature

Estate Director of the Euston Estate farm Andrew Blenkiron speaks to journalist about his expectations regarding a drop in yields of 50 percent for the crops they are unable to irrigate, as he stands by a field of forage maize which has largely failed to germinate due to lack of rain, in Euston, outside Thetford, on August 10, 2022. (Photo by WILLIAM EDWARDS/AFP via Getty Images)

Britain is on the brink of a vegetable shortage as crops are ravaged by the summer heatwave while chaos at Dover continues to make importing supplies from Europe difficult, stated a recent report. 

According to The Telegraph, shoppers will be confronted by fewer vegetables on the shelves after the drought conditions and record-breaking temperatures ruined production, farmers have warned.

Jack Ward, chief executive of the British Growers Association, said Britain “could be in a major deficit position”, where domestic supplies cannot meet demand.

“The temperatures we are seeing here are being replicated around Europe so European production sites are facing similar challenges. This could lead to less product and less choice,” he said.

Crops such as onions, potatoes, carrots and lettuces are likely to be affected badly as extreme heat and strained water supplies stunt the growth of many vegetables, reducing the size and quality of the crop. 

“At this late stage of the season, finding growers with surplus production may not be that simple – plus the cost of transport has escalated in the past few months even if you can get hold of it,” Ward said.

“Many European freight operators are less than keen on coming to the UK due to the problems at Dover and the extra waiting time as a result of the additional checks.”

He added that crops being planted now for consumption in the winter are being badly affected by a lack of rain, which is forcing water companies to impose hosepipe banks across the UK.

The price of food is soaring as the war in Ukraine hits supplies from the “breadbasket of Europe” and farmers face a jump in costs, particularly in fuel, fertiliser and animal feed.

English farmers have faced the driest first half of any year since 1976, followed by record temperatures in July that exceeded 40 degrees for the first time on record.

There were chaotic scenes and hours-long queues at the port of Dover last month, causing significant delays for travellers.

Food producers, such as those in the salmon industry, have complained that delays at the port are causing loss of sales. Supplies into the UK are also expected to be disrupted by dockers at Felixstowe, the country’s biggest container port, going on an eight-day strike.