Food Prices and Extreme Weather

Food Prices and Extreme Weather

Wed, 12/09/2018 - 12:06
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It is accepted that weather has always had a major impact on our day to day lives across the globe. From deciding what we wear, to how we commute and how we shop. But have we considered the impact it has on a national or global scale? We often hear in the media about the future effects climate change will have on us but more recently the effect it is having on us now. Although no one weather event can be said to have been the result of climate change, the pattern of reoccurring extreme conditions can be linked to our changing climate.

From extreme flooding to heatwaves, it all has an impact on how our economy develops. Summer 2018 has been acknowledged as the hottest summer on record in the UK, joining 1976, 2003 and 2006 at the top. The main industries which have been impacted by such extremely hot conditions are farming and food. Failing crops caused by the wet and cold winter and the severe drought over summer has resulted in very low yield for some vegetables. Wholesale prices have soared across the UK, carrots by 40% and potatoes and parsnips by nearly 30%.  The pea yield is down by approximately 40%, all following warnings by farmer’s representatives.  A report by the Centre of Economics and Business Research (CEBR) explained that some of these costs are yet to hit consumers. It can often take 18 months for these price increases to reach consumers but they are likely to be £45m per week or £7.15 per household per month.

Elsewhere in Europe, the dry and hot summer has also resulted in prices increases. Onions from Poland have nearly doubled in price and some soft fruit prices in northern Europe have soared by 50-60%. Meat prices are also due to increase because of shortages in livestock feed.

Although price increases will cover some of the costs to farmers incurred from this low yield season, some farmers are still looking at added of costs of approximately £60,000. There is a shortage of livestock feed in the UK which means that dairy farmers will have to pay more for their feed. Many farmers have had to start using the reserves they have saved for the coming winter. The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board has warned that livestock feed and vegetable prices will be higher as we get into Spring 2019.