UK Faces Crop Shortfall Due to Wet Weather; Bread and Biscuit Price Hikes Expected

By Thea Felicity

Apr 29, 2024 11:01 AM EDT

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LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 05: A man takes shelter under an umbrella during a heavy rain shower as preparations continue for The Coronation on May 05, 2023 in London, England. The Coronation of King Charles III and The Queen Consort will take place on May 6, part of a three-day celebration.
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The Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) suggests that bread, biscuits, and beer prices in the UK may soar due to months of relentless wet weather. This could jeopardize crop yields of essential grains like wheat, barley, and oats, which could plummet by over 17% compared to last year.

Following one of the wettest winters on record, the soggy conditions have persisted into spring across various regions, rendering many fields unsuitable for planting new crops.

As reported by BBC, data from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) and figures from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs predict a potential four million tonne drop in the production of wheat, barley, oats, and rapeseed in 2024.

While recent inflation figures have shown a slowdown in price rises, bread and cereal prices rose by 0.2% between February and March, a notable decrease from the 2.2% increase recorded during the same period last year.

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Effects of Shortfall in Crops

Now, the ECIU analysis warns that if the UK experiences a shortfall in crop production, food producers might need to resort to increased imports from abroad, consequently driving up consumer costs.

George Weston, chief executive of Associated British Foods, which owns popular bread brands like Allinson's and Kingsmill, cautioned about potential price hikes due to forecasts indicating a smaller UK wheat harvest this year.

Tom Lancaster, a land analyst at ECIU, acknowledged the impact of persistent wet weather on farmers' fields. This weather has saturated soils unsuitable for planting and created challenges in applying fertilizers, which could necessitate increased imports to compensate for the shortage in domestic supply.

With expectations of a 40% reduction in this summer's wheat crop compared to the previous year, concerns are mounting among industry experts. 

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