Families face higher food prices as 'disastrous' drought hits UK farmers

Households are facing another surge in prices forstaple foods such as bread, potatoes, and meat.

Shoppers are already We are witnessing a significant increase in prices, and with energy prices doubling just in October, supermarket prices are likely to rise even further.

As the government prepared to issue its official drought declaration on Friday, the National Farmers Union said its members had reported unprecedented dry conditions, saying, I have never seen such a situation," he said. Poor quality produce and reduced yields.

Potato farmers have been hit the hardest, with yields reported as much as 40% lower in some areas during the critical growing month of August.

Wheat yields are also plummeting amid sweltering temperatures across Europe, fueling major war-induced supply disruptions in Ukraine.

UK potato growers report low yields and poor quality, said Alice Witchals, market analyst at commodity data firm Mintec Global.

"August is a critical time of growth and potatoes need a lot of water," Witchals said.

“There is a great deal of variability in what growers report.

Prices for 2021 are already up 37.5% year-on-year, and growers expect a further jump when the results of this year's harvest are known in the coming weeks. doing.

Analysts warned that grain prices are expected to continue to rise and that severe water shortages mean lower quality wheat with less protein content.

Wheat prices, which had begun to settle after reaching record highs following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, have risen 10% since early July as concerns over drought grow across Europe.

Her Zanna Aleksahhina, a grain market expert at Mintec, said the market indicated further price increases were to be expected.

"Weather is definitely what we're looking at. Right now winter wheat yields are about average, but quality can decline," said Alexahina. .

“The UK imports 60% of our corn and the hot weather is affecting all of Europe. We may have to pay higher prices.”

Since corn and wheat are used in livestock feed, rising grain prices will also put additional pressure on beef, poultry and mutton prices. deaf.

"It was a dire situation," said Carl Franklin, an Oxfordshire shepherd.

"That's not an exaggeration. We feed our lambs with standing hay, which is dry grass.

"It has little nutritional value.

"No grass at all right now. If things don't change, I'm going to do a rain dance in a few days." Sheep farmers are concerned that a shortage of pasture for the breeding season will lead to a large drop in lamb numbers next year, reducing the meat supply.

It takes 8 weeks to grow enough grass to survive the winter.The timescale is getting tighter.If you don't give them enough pasture,the lambs will get sick.They won't get fat.

NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw said the weather was "extremely difficult" for many farms across the country, causing concern for all agricultural sectors. 

“This highlights the urgent need for governments and their agencies to better plan and manage the country's water resources. , provides an opportunity to invest in irrigation equipment and help increase on-farm water reservoirs.

Bradshaw noted that while crops such as sugar beets and corn showed "signs of stress," warned of challenges for farmers who need to irrigate their fields of vegetables and potatoes. 

The Environment Agency has initiated measures to allow farmers to exchange water with other farmers, but many fear that another few weeks of dry weather are forecast. That's why I'm asking for more help.

Bradshaw added: “Dry weather can significantly inhibit pasture growth and impact winter feed supplies, adding additional costs to livestock operations at a time when costs continue to rise significantly.

Any further increase in food prices will be even more dire for households struggling to keep up with rising costs of living.

Food prices will rise by 9. Did. 8% for the year to July as producers passed on the costs of higher energy prices and supply disruptions. Experts predict that this figure could jump to 20% for him, pushing the cost of his one shopping trip a week to levels that are unaffordable for many low-income families. I'm here.

Meanwhile, analysts at energy consultancy Auxilione said average energy bills reached £4,467 in January and could exceed £5,000 by April.

The Bank of England said he expects overall consumer price inflation to reach 13.3% in the last three months of the year, his highest since 1980. The highest standard.

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