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Could There Be Another Veg Shortage?

Seed shortages

Potato planting min min

In February this year we had a huge veg shortage across Europe. So did the farming and supermarket community learn anything to make sure it does not happen again? Industry data suggest not: in the UK all brassica planting was down in 2023- that’s cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, kale, sprouts, etc. Plus salad and potato plantings are all down.

Now, why is that? Well, small farmers growing a few acres and big famers growing 1000’s of acres are all more cautious of how much they’re growing, due to high growing costs. Add in a bit of weather, a few bugs and plant viruses and you end up with another shortage… You would think it was the 1720s!

The wetter weather from July has sent spud prices to the highest I have ever seen. By April 2024 we may see some of the most expensive potatoes in the UK. Perhaps some stock trader is salivating over my insight, but I write for people who want to eat local food and make sure we have something decent in our area.

Right now I am trying to buy the potato seed for next year, but there is a shortage too! We always buy them from Scotland as their seed has the least amount of disease. If we saved our own seed (which we will trial this year) then it would not normally grow as successfully as Scottish seed.

The shortage of potatoes will continue to at least summer 2025, as with limited seed around the number of acres grown will not increase either.

What is the solution?

Right now I am planning all our planting for the 2024 season. Phoning around seed suppliers is informing me that supply of seed is very tight on many lines of vegetables, and prices are really high.

I think we really need to pull together even more; it’s already amazing that you’re getting your veg from us and we have done a lot together to restore fruit and veg growing back to our county. But it is concerning what is happening in the wider industry and I don't have all the answers other than to keep going and do the best we can. We will grow a few extra to insure against any weather but I don’t like all the instability and I hope things settle down soon.

by David Fryer on 1st December 2023