UK households will be paying the price of the summer heatwave wave this Christmas, which had a negative impact on vegetable growth, wheat crops and herd pastures.
The annual UK Christmas dinner index, conducted by Mintec, revealed a 20% increase in the wholesale cost of christmas dinner essentials. Hindered by a hot and dry summer, production levels of vegetables and potatoes were substantially reduced and the limited supply has led to increased prices.
Seasonal vegetables saw the largest price increase, with the festive favourite Brussel sprouts up by 68% on last year. Meanwhile carrot prices reached a four-year high, increasing by 56%, and parsnips increased by 42%, as a wetter than usual spring delayed plantation and the heatwave led to a lower yield.
The summer also took its toll on potatoes and as a result, wholesale prices increased by 46%. Despite rainfall in August, water stress and heat resulted in a loss of harvest. Figures from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) revealed that the total UK potato harvest for the year was down by 13%, resulting in a wider range of shapes and sizes reaching shops this year.
Dr Rob Clayton, sector strategy director at AHDB Potatoes, said: “We won’t run out of potatoes, but what consumers will notice is a wider range of shapes and sizes in the bag they bring home to cook with.”
He continued: “With fewer potatoes around this year supermarkets won’t be able to only choose from the ‘middle’ section of sizes – hence more variety in the bag.”
The cost of turkey in November was down 0.2% year-on-year, but the average cost between January and November was 8% higher than the same period last year. Turkey meat production wasn’t to blame, as it was operating at greater or higher levels than 2017, but feed for turkeys was again impacted by the hot weather and increased by 3%.
Pork prices however, have fallen by 5.5%, making it a good alternative the traditional Christmas turkey.
Consumers will also see the impact of the summer’s heatwave on their Christmas dinner, with prices rising by 6% according to Good Housekeeping, with seven out of the 10 supermarkets increasing their prices. The only three not to increase prices were Co-op, Morrisons and Sainsburys.
Tracking the cost of 11 essentials, the magazine found that Aldi’s Christmas dinner will set shoppers back £26.43 to feed a family of eight this Christmas, a 75p increase on 2017. In second place was Lidl (£28.22) and third was Asda (£31.24) while Waitrose was the most expensive at £43.98.
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