Food prices rocket after extreme weather

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Extreme weather this year has sparked price increases across a number of food items
Extreme weather this year has sparked price increases across a number of food items
Extreme weather this year – punctuated by the warmest summer in living memory and a harsh, wet winter – will see food prices soar, analysts at the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) have claimed.

UK consumers could end up paying an extra £45m a week for food, as extreme weather has put particular stress on farming costs and yields. The full effect of the price increases could take up 18 months to filter through.

Domestic food production was the worst-hit, with the wholesale prices for vegetables rising markedly between March and July of this year. The farmgate prices of a number of items grew by at least a fifth, including onions (up 41%), carrots (up 80%), lettuce (up 61%) and wheat for bread (up 20%).

Butter prices rise 24%

In addition, the UK’s dairy industry saw butter prices rise 24% due to hot weather hampering grass growth.

Even when grass growth returns to normal, the reduced grazing seen this year will have a lasting impact​,” said CEBR. “Some farmers have had to turn to already depleted back-up supplies to boost production, which will keep upward pressure on feed costs in the coming winter.”

Piglet prices rose 8%, thanks to the heat reducing the fertility of pigs. Prices are set to fall in the short term, as farmers look to sell their livestock earlier than usual to reduce the burden on grazing land. However, prices could rise again, as feed availability is affected by a weak harvest.

CEBR added: “With the wholesale price of many crops already rising very significantly and meat prices set to climb in coming months, it seems likely that wholefood prices will rise at least 5%.”

£7.15 per month per household

“Using Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs research … CEBR estimates that the extreme weather will ultimately drive up the costs to UK consumers by £45m per week. This is equivalent to a rise of £7.15 per month per household.”

This year’s extreme weather conditions have affected a number of food and drink producers. Earlier this month, the weather was the main contributing factor that forced egg producer Blackdown Hills Enterprises Ltd into administration​, costing the jobs of its entire workforce.

Meanwhile, last month, drinks manufacturer Britvic’s sales fell flat in its third-quarter results​, as shortages in carbon dioxide prevented it from capitalising on the UK’s recent heatwave.

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