UK must prioritise food security warns NFU

Food shortages could last for weeks, says the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), as poor weather in Europe and north Africa has impacted food supply.

Brexit and high energy bills impacting British glass houses have also contributed to the situation, according to NFU deputy president Tom Bradshaw.

He added that the UK could ‘hit a tipping point’ where the government needs to increase food security and ‘take command of the food we produce’.

blue and brown wooden counter

‘We’ve been warning about this moment for the past year,’ Bradshaw told Times Radio. ‘The tragic events in Ukraine have driven inflation, particularly energy inflation, to levels that we haven’t seen before.

‘There’s a lack of confidence from the growers that they’re going to get the returns that justify planting their glasshouses, and at the moment we’ve got a lot of glasshouses that would be growing the tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, aubergine that are sitting there empty because they simply couldn’t take the risk to plant them with the crops, not thinking they’d get the returns from the marketplace.

‘And with them being completely reliant on imports – we’d always have some imports – but we’ve been completely reliant on imports [now]. And when there’s been some shock weather events in Morocco and Spain, it’s meant that we’ve had these shortages.’

Bradshaw noted that the UK had had to go further afield to source fruit and vegetables since Brexit, with produce now being imported regularly from Morocco where climate events are more prevalent.

Several supermarkets including Tesco, Aldi, Morrisons and Asda have been forced to bring in customer limits on fruit and veg to ensure shelves remain stocked up.

Customers have been complaining on Twitter about empty shelves, as tomatoes, cucumber, raspberries, salad and broccoli are in short supply.

Scientists have warned that the climate crisis could jeopardise the world’s food security, as extreme weather and high temperatures lead to drought and unsurvivable conditions for crops.

But increasing biodiversity could help to mitigate some of this, as last year, a study found that pollinators can stabilise crop yields and help to reduce food prices.

Photo by Mick Haupt


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