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The real reason for the UK food crisis

The real reason for the UK food crisis
The real reason for the UK food crisis


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An apple a day would make you really lucky.

Strawberry: No. Oi: Same. Tomato: No chance. The fruit and vegetable aisles in supermarkets were empty this week.

In the UK, people expressed their embarrassment via social media. Meanwhile, our European neighbors taunted us with plentiful shelves and juicy tomatoes. One Twitter user revealed that fresh produce is plentiful even in Ukraine’s Kherson, where shelling continues.

So, what’s happening to our food supply? Some argue that extreme weather across Morocco and Spain is impacting income, some put it on the Brexits door, and some argue that a cost-of-living crisis fueled by an energy price crisis is impacting growers’ ability to heat greenhouses. do. Supermarkets, which paid farmers prices low enough to outweigh the cost of production, could also be to blame. The truth is all of this.

But don’t worry. Therese Coffey has a solution. Just eat more turnips.

She recently told MPs that the solution to the food supply chain problem is to eat more British vegetables and value British produce. She begs the British to buy them. Eat seasonal foods, she urges.

But the truth is that British fruit is in peril right now. British apple farmers plan to erode their orchards. Hectares of English apple orchards are being dug up and growers plan to plant 31% fewer apple and pear trees next season.

If there are no tomatoes today, maybe next time there will be no apples and pears? After 40 years of growing fruit, we decided to stop growing apples after two years, a grower told the British Apple and Pear Association.

Farmers claim these are two problems: lack of government support and greedy supermarkets. UK agriculture is an energy dependent sector with insufficient government support to cover input costs such as fuel and labor. These costs increased 23% year-over-year, but the price paid by supermarkets increased only 1%. Unsustainable. Minette Batters, president of the National Farmers Union, said domestic production of salads containing tomatoes and cucumbers was at its lowest level since 1985.

No, Therese, we simply cannot rely on eating British food. Turnip panic We can’t just eat turnips because buyers have emptied our shelves. We were headed for a food supply catastrophe with few solutions.

We are already heavily dependent on other countries importing more than 40% of our food. And since we’re no longer a member of the EU, we couldn’t rely on our friendly neighbors to help us out when we ran out of cucumbers. The answer is nowhere to be found if the government intervenes where it cannot or does not support British farmers and where corporate greed rears its ugly head.

All of this is happening at a time when we are (rightly) encouraged to eat healthily, stick to five meals a day, prepare from scratch, and minimize ultra-processed foods, but food supply chain challenges like these make it that much more difficult.

What will the future of fruits and vegetables look like in UK supermarkets? Will it end with long-term rationing of tomatoes (supermarkets are already limiting purchases). Many of us are already obese and eat too many fatty, salty and unhealthy foods – how will this affect the British diet?

The UK food supply chain is resilient. Remember the Covid panic buying? After initial fears that flour, pasta or eggs would never be available again, supermarkets (with government support) slowly got back in order. However, significant changes are needed in the way the food system works.

First, we must pay farmers a fair price for their products. We support you to continue supplying our favorite Braeburn or Bramley.

Second, the UK government needs to step in to correct market failures. In the short term, farmers need relief from dire energy prices. We need to support the long-term transition to renewable energy to reduce gas dependence.

Lastly, if there is no one picking the fruit, there will be no fruit. Governments need to address the labor shortage that Brexit has significantly exacerbated.

We need systemic change, not quick-fix solutions. We must put pressure on those in charge to improve the food system and support British farmers.

Dayna Brackley is a food policy consultant at Bremner Consulting and a master’s student at the City, University of London Center for Food Policy.




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