Christmas dinner staples at risk after tough harvest for farmers


This year’s Christmas dinner staples could be at risk after farmers faced a tough harvest, caused by heavy rain and flooding in recent weeks.

Supplies of potatoes, broccoli and cauliflower have all been impacted by October’s unprecedented rainfall, with storms such as Agnes, Babet and Ciaran causing waterlogged farms.

Retailers have had to turn to cold storage to keep up with the demand for produce and the UK’s potato crop is expected to reach a historic low of only 4.1 million tonnes.

Other produce to have taken a hit include sprouts and parsnips, but these vegetables are expected to recover enough to be back on the festive menu by Christmas.

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“The British potato harvest has been hit hard by heavy rain and flooding in recent weeks, causing delayed lifting and large crop losses. This was preceded by a cold, wet spring and a cool summer with low light levels,” editor of Fresh Produce Journal Fred Searle told Sky News.

“With the potatoes that are in store there’s likely to be enough supply to meet demand for the time being, but that might not be the case in the months ahead.”

Lincolnshire grower Martin Tate, who manages 18,000 acres in the county, added:  “There won’t be enough broccoli to supply the Christmas dinner demand.

“Cauliflower is still a problem, and you can expect to see empty trays over the next few weeks but may return to normal before Christmas. After some initial issues, brussels sprouts supplies look like they will be okay.”

Vegetables are not the only products at risk of leaving the Christmas plate empty this year.

Earlier this week it emerged that supermarkets could be hit with shortages of British beef and lamb as farmers face falling subsidy payments and rising costs.



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