Many representatives of growers warn that because retailers are unwilling to pass cost increases on to consumers, or see reduced margins, trust is being lost between suppliers and growers. However, Andrew Opie of the British Retail Consortium which represents supermarkets, said, “Retailers have long-standing, established relationships with their suppliers and know how important maintaining these are for their customers and businesses. Supermarkets source the vast majority of their food from the UK and know they need to pay a sustainable price to farmers, but they are constrained by how much additional cost they can pass onto consumers during a cost-of-living crisis.”
Another factor is that higher prices in store are already reducing the volume of vegetables being sold. A new market insight report by Veg Power looking at purchases over the Christmas period, found that families on lower incomes reduced their spend on vegetables – and on food generally – and prioritised purchases including alcohol, sweets and treats.
Almost a third of the people surveyed (28%) also agreed that rising energy costs led to less veg consumption, while 20% agreed that veg purchasing was reduced to save money. Another survey by IRI Worldwide showed that this Christmas the basket volume share for vegetables was 7.6% lower than before the pandemic in 2018.