Cauliflowers could be the next major vegetable crop to be in short supply on supermarket shelves after freezing temperatures in December and January wiped out plants in many parts of the country The Fresh Produce Journal has warned.
Lincolnshire is among the worst affected areas, with one grower telling the magazine that crops were “a write off” with no prospect of significant volumes until next February. “At the moment, we’re not seeing much in the way of a cauliflower shortage at retail level, but soon, over the next couple of weeks when the Spanish crop runs out, there will be a lot of pressure for the product. We’ll start to see the real effects of this shortfall from mid-April onwards, and May could be very short,” he said.
Cornish growers escaped the worst of the weather and are in a better position to make up any shortfall in supply.
“Our product is fine. We’re maybe seeing 5 per cent damage, but the forecasts are good. We have been able to fulfil our orders and have been covering for some Lincolnshire and Spanish crop affected by freezing temperatures,” a leading South West grower told FPJ.
“It has been a very tricky year for brassica growers,” he said. “What with the weather, energy costs, inflation, and the rising cost of labour. The government visa scheme is helping and has overcome the labour shortage. However, labour now is much more expensive and growers are responsible for paying staff even when they can’t use them [due to weather issues]. Labour accounts for 50 per cent of grower costs.”