Food Prices to Rise in England and Wales
**UK Wheat Yields Lowest Since Late 1980s**
Food prices are set to rise after poor weather conditions damaged harvests in England and Wales, The Times reported on 10 October 2012. According to a National Farmers’ Union (NFU) survey, UK yields for 2012 have been badly affected by the drought-ridden spring and wet, gloomy summer.
England and Wales have endured their wettest summer for 100 years, with 14.25in (362mm) of rain falling in June, July and August. Levels of light were below 70 per cent of normal levels in June and July. The poor weather conditions resulted in a stark fall in farmers’ wheat crop this year. According to the NFU survey, wheat yields are down over 14 per cent on a five-year average, to levels last seen in the late 1980s.
NFU combinable crops adviser Guy Gagen said: “We have seen a relatively low wheat yield this year, below seven tonnes per hectare. This is something not seen in the UK since the late 1980s.”
The poor crop will send up the price not only of wheat products such as bread, but also of meat, as pigs and poultry are fed on grain. Fruit and vegetable production is also affected by the bad weather, which caused supermarkets’ to warn that they will be selling more misshapen produce because of the poor harvest.
**The Wine Industry Also Affected**
The unusually poor weather conditions have also had a damaging impact on Britain’s wine industry. English sparkling wines producer Nyetimber announced that it will not be harvesting its grapes grown in West Sussex and Hampshire this year because the quality of the grapes would not be of sufficiently high standard due to the effects of the bad weather.
!m[Wet Summer Hits Harvests and Particularly Wheat Prices, Says National Farmers’ Union ](/uploads/story/556/thumbs/pic1_inline.png)Nyetimber winemaker Cherie Spriggs said: “My first obligation as the winemaker is to ensure the quality of Nyetimber’s wines, and we have collectively come to the decision that the grapes from 2012 cannot deliver the standards we have achieved in the past and will again in the future.”
**BRC Warns of Price Pressures**
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has spoken of price pressure following Britain’s poor harvest season, whose impact combines with the effects of the worst drought in 50 years in the United States and a heat wave in Russia. As a result of these occupancies, over the past 12 months the global price of wheat has soared around 30 per cent, while overall global food prices rose six per cent in July.
However, looking to reassure consumers, Richard Dodd of the BRC said: “Our own figures for the shop price inflation for food show that it has been very, very stable – it has been 3.1 per cent for the last three months which is actually a two-year low. There is no food price explosion going on but there are pressures in the system that will work through. Our fiercely competitive retail market is protecting customers from the worst effects of these price pressures.”
**The Impact on National Health**
Food policy specialists have raised concerns about the impact that rising food prices will have on the health and wellbeing of those on low incomes. The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) reported last week that UK food prices have increased by 32 per cent between 2007 and 2012. As a result, lower income families have cut their consumption of fruit and vegetables by nearly one-third to just over half of the five-a-day portions recommended for a healthy diet.
Professor of food policy at City University Tim Lang told BBC Radio 4: “The Government slipped out figures last week that lower income families are cutting back on fruit and veg. This is a disaster for public health.”
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