The Government has updated its horticulture statistics for 2022, showing that inflation increased the value of home-grown fruit and vegetables, although greenhouse vegetable crops and ornamentals declined in overall production value.
The figures show that the value of home-produced vegetables increased by 4.8% to just under £1.8 billion in 2022, despite the fact that volumes decreased by 5.8% to 2.4 million tonnes. These overall figures include an increase of 7.5% in the value of field vegetables to £1.4 billion (a £98 million increase on 2021). However, the value of protected vegetables decreased by 4.4% to £371 million (a £17 million decrease on the previous year).
Imports of vegetables increased by 3.3% to just over 2 million tonnes and exports increased 39% to 96 thousand tonnes, with home production contributing to around 55% of the total UK supply in 2022, compared to 57% in 2021. The UK production area of vegetables dropped 5% to 107,000 hectares.
The weather last year was cited as a key factor in field vegetable production with ideal drilling conditions in January, followed by an unsettled spring and a warm, dry summer with record temperatures and droughts which reduced yields.
According to the report, ‘The increasing costs of all inputs such as energy, diesel, fertiliser and plant protection products have squeezed grower profitability significantly.’
The planted area of brassicas decreased by 7.1% at 24 thousand hectares, and broccoli and cauliflower yields fell with prices rising to compensate (as much as 57% in the case of some broccoli crops). Crops such as bulb onions and carrots which relied on irrigation also saw low yields and higher production costs due to high energy prices.
Energy prices had the biggest effect on protected edible crops, with the production of protected vegetables falling by 5.7% in 2022 to 247 thousand tonnes. The area used decreased by 11% to 709 hectares – the seventh year in a row where protected vegetable production has fallen since peak production in 2015 at 310,000 tonnes.