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Wet weather pushes wholesale veg prices by up to 66%

Wholesale veg prices have climbed by as much as 66% this year after the UK’s wettest eight months on record.

The wholesale prices of parsnips, cauliflowers, leeks, savoy cabbage, swede, red onions and spring greens have all risen by more than 25% since this time last year, Defra data shows, as sodden farms limit the availability of produce across the country.

Parsnips saw the most significant price increase of up 65.6% since this time last year – and by 81% since January – to hit a wholesale value of £2.19 per kilo.

Red onions, meanwhile, have doubled in price year on year, and swede has gone up by 31.3% in the same period.

Cauliflower has also seen a significant price increase of 29.2% to £1.86 per head compared with this time last year.

“Weather conditions are increasingly becoming a critical factor in global food production due to the growing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events,” said Harry Campbell, market researcher at Mintec.

“These changes not only affect crop yields but also disrupt supply chains, which can lead to fluctuations in food availability and prices.”

Potato prices, which are not tracked by Defra, were also at an all-time high due to the wet weather at harvest last year, Campbell added, citing Mintec’s benchmark pricing.

“As these extreme weather events become more common, their influence on food security intensifies, necessitating adaptive strategies in agricultural practices and supply chain management to mitigate the impact on food systems,” he said.

However, there was a stronger performance in areas that are less impacted by the weather, such as greenhouse growing, said Gary Marshall, MD of Bevington Salads and chairman of Covent Garden Tenants Association.

These crops included tomatoes, which are currently at their cheapest wholesale price level for a decade, “but you won’t see that passed on by the supermarkets”, he claimed.

“There is also a tremendous amount of early British soft fruit on the market,” he added. “The Best British strawberries are selling at £1.60-£1.80 for a 450g punnet this week, so independent retailers buying from us are selling top quality fruit cheaper and fresher than the supermarkets.”