UK braces for dismal post-Christmas vegetable surplus – Is the food shortage over? | United Kingdom | News


In the run-up to Christmas 2021, mild weather conditions meant UK cauliflowers flowered too late for farmers to harvest.

Instead, UK retailers were forced to sell imports from France and Spain during the holiday season to meet consumer demand.

As a result, many farmers on both sides of the British Isles are now beginning to grapple with the problem of oversupply and what to do with it.

The commercial director of one such company – TH Clements – in Lincolnshire, said growing conditions in 2021 were among the worst “for many years”.

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Richard Mowbray told i News: “Cauliflower is a cool weather vegetable and the season got off to a bad start in August and September as we didn’t have cold nights which is important for growth.

“The plants did not flower at the right time, that is to say at the end of October and the beginning of November.

“Instead, they started flowering in December, which means they were a month late.”

One of the UK’s ‘big four’ supermarket chains, Tesco, has agreed to sell the vegetables but at a reduced price.

The most recent Brexit change – in force since January 1 – saw the addition of new customs rules for goods arriving in Britain from the EU.

Importers must now make full customs declarations on goods entering the UK from the EU and other countries.

As a result, traders can no longer delay making full import customs declarations for up to 175 days, as was the case previously.

Although the problem has eased somewhat, traders are also struggling with the lack of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers to deliver their orders.

Logistics UK, which represents freight and haulage companies, said last autumn there were 44,000 fewer HGV drivers than at the same time in 2019.

Since then, efforts have been made to encourage members of the profession not to leave and to increase the hiring of learner drivers, but problems persist.

Additionally, the ongoing Covid pandemic has also affected UK-related fresh produce supply chains.

Many workers have had to self-isolate at times, while the emergence of Covid variants such as Omicron has only further exacerbated already overstretched producers.


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