2018 Weather Extremes to Push Up UK Food Prices by 5%

The record breaking heat wave experienced in the UK during 2018, which was preceded by a bitterly cold Winter, looks set to have an adverse effect on food prices in the coming months. According to a report produced by the London based Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), this could cost the UK public as much as £45m, representing average 5% price hike at the supermarket and an approximate £7 extra on monthly bills.

The prolonged spells of blistering heat and droughts that hit the British Isles earlier this year, compounded the damage that was done to crop yields by the Beast from the East at the beginning of the year. The report itself is based on research carried out by DEFRA (The Department for Environment and Rural Affairs), which cites a combination of raised production costs and reduced yields as being the primary causes for the anticipated price hike.

Existing Plastics

The most popular biodegradable plastic that exists on the the market today is known as PLA (aka Polylactic Acid) and whilst it is, technically, classed as being biodegradable, it takes some pretty exceptional conditions to do so. In order for PLA to be broken down, it must be subject to extremes of heat, rather than happening in a way that nature could deal with on it’s own.

Not the First Rise

This increase is not the first of its kind - far from it - as the cost of vegetables rose considerably between March and July of 2018. During this period, wheat rose by 20%, lettuce by some 60% and the cost of carrots increasing by a whopping 80%.

The UK is not the only country to be hit in this way however, as much of Europe also endured soaring temperatures during the Summer. This has been felt in the UK food industry indirectly, as a good proportion of the grain stocks here are imported from the continent and whilst existing stocks have prevented drastic rises in prices, it would seem to have only delayed the inevitable.

Reserve Feed

Another indirect impact felt by the drought was on livestock feed, something that continues even now, even after the grass growth has recovered. The fact that farmers had to fall back on reserve supplies of feed in an attempt to boost failing production seems bound to drive costs up in the future.

It doesn’t end there either, as breeding rates for pigs suffered due to the heat, resulting in a increase in piglet prices. The only area to buck this trend is that of lamb and beef, with an small drop expected in the short term due to the fact that farmers are reducing their livestock as they attempt to reduce the load on grazing land.

In Summary

The total cost of the last 12 months on the UK’s farming industry is still being counted, but what’s evident is that it is a heavy one. Every facet of agriculture has been strained in one or another and it’s an impact that can’t help but be passed on to the consumer. However, with household incomes already stretched to breaking point, something must surely give somewhere.

What is for sure, is that consumers, farmers and food retailers as a whole are going to be praying for a much milder 2019.