Unless afforded the luxury of basking in the southern European heat wave for the last three months, you cannot escape the fact that the good old British summer was a washout of epic proportions.
Hundreds of acres of crops, which should have been harvested, were left ruined through a combination of floodwater and lack of sun, leaving growers and manufacturers alike counting the huge financial cost of the environmental disaster.
Consumers have already noticed a hefty premium is being passed on to them on the fresh produce shelves for those fruits and vegetables that the retailers have been fortunate to secure supplies of. The most seriously affected crops have been those grown at ground level such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and strawberries.
Neither is the crisis limited to fresh produce since fresh frozen vegetables such as peas are experiencing a significant shortfall too and suppliers are frantically trying to secure stocks globally. Specifications are having to be revisited with standards of acceptability widened and frozen produce considered for lines which, in the past, would have been taboo.
All this will have significant influence on new product development in the coming months. Developers looking ahead to the next six to 12 months must take on board the implications on quality, price and supply of produce as the effects of the floods will remain with us until at least the 2008 harvest.
The whole development team must maintain a close working relationship with their buyers, to understand market price fluctuations at both a national and global level when conceiving new product ideas to ensure they will ultimately be commercially viable. No manufacturer will fail to be affected either directly or indirectly through the supply chain, so make sure your company doesn't become well and truly left out in the rain.
Angela Mitton is creative product developer at NPD consultancyBeetroot & Orange