- Summer is at an end and, with it, the heatwave that ravaged the country for two months. In its wake lie decreased yields, damaged crops and long-term effects for the food industry
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The hottest summer in the UK since 1976 brought with it a drought. Between the heat and the lack of rainfall, farmers noticed a significant change in their crops, which could ultimately affect the price of certain fruits and vegetables and their availability. According to the National Farmers’ Union, farm gate prices are looking to increase and it will be to the discretion of the retailers about who takes the hit: consumers or themselves.
Certain crops, such as onions and carrots have reportedly yielded between 25 and 30% less than the prior year, a direct result of the lack of rainfall. The heat has stunted the growth of brassicas, with cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower reportedly down in volume according to Jack Ward, the chief executive of the British Growers’ Association. Peas and apples have been affected as their crops will be producing smaller products. Potatoes are likely to suffer, but because September is only the beginning of their harvest, the return of rain may have come just in time. Grains ripened far earlier than accustomed because of the heat, decreasing their yield and their bulk. Lettuce provides an interesting case because the heat not only wilted and diminished crops, but throughout the long heat spell there was a 40% increase in demand for lettuce by consumers wanting to make summer salads. Amid reports of failing and withered crops, prospects for raspberries and cherries look promising. The long summer suits raspberries and cherries benefit from drier weather.
With approximately £500m worth of crops lost to the weather, food prices are reported to rise an estimated 5%. The meat and dairy industry have also suffered, with milk production down and winter stores already dipped into just to keep livestock fed. It will be a matter of waiting to see what further effects the weather has, and how it shapes the latter half of 2018.