Farmers are warning that British produce, from carrots to cucumbers, could disappear from shopping trolleys if the big supermarkets don’t start sharing the cost of their seemingly endless promotions.
Sarah Dawson, Chairman of the National Farmers Union’s horticulture and potatoes board, says supermarket promotions are a huge risk for growers:
“When you see a deal in the supermarket that looks too good to be true, it probably is! Somebody is paying for the cost of the 33 per cent extra, the 50 per cent off or the bogof [buy one get one free] – and it’s usually the grower, I’m sorry to say.
“We simply can’t take the strain of paying for promotions that have got longer, deeper and more frequent. We all want consumers to have value, but more of the costs should be shared with retailers.”
And farmers in other sectors are also feeling the financial pressure, with dairy farmers recently only narrowly avoiding a drop in the price paid to them for milk.
However, those under most strain are producers of greengrocery staples, such as spring onions and cauliflowers, according to the NFU. In a recent report it labelled several British staple crops, including tomatoes, cucumbers and spring onions, as “endangered” because of poor supply-chain practices and a short-term approach by retailers which, it claimed, strip millions of pounds out of the fresh produce sector.
While Hayley Campbell-Gibbons, the NFU’s chief horticulture and potatoes adviser, says retailers also fine producers between £20 and £50 every time a consumer complains about a purchase, even though there is no evidence it is the farmer’s fault.
Meat and fish farmers are also feeling the pinch; for example, although chickens are selling well, the price of the American soya, which makes up 20 per cent of their feed, has rocketed, causing an estimated rise of 25 per cent in production costs to meet consumers’ demands.
As an accountant, Nigel Moysey specialises within offering taxation and financial advice to the agricultural sector