Quantity and value of vegetable production on the up

UK vegetable production rose in quantity and value last year, by four and five per cent respectively, despite a challenging start to the year, according to latest Defra figures. But though fruit also rose in quantity by five per cent, its value remained flat compared with 2012.

Rhubarb: positive trend noted
Rhubarb: positive trend noted

The overall value of fruit and vegetable output was put at "an all-time high" of nearly £1.9bn, but at the same time the value of total imports rose 10 per cent to £5bn.

As a result, UK self-sufficiency slipped to 55 per cent for vegetables and 10 per cent for fruit. The slip was most marked in mushrooms, for which self-sufficiency now stands at 41 per cent.

In all, fruit and vegetable production occupied 160,000ha, 131,000ha of which was accounted for by vegetables. Carrots and brassicas saw rises in planted area of two per cent, while green peas fell four per cent.

Protected salad production increased by eight per cent in area to 818ha, though cucumber output was down by eight per cent.

On fruit, the long-term decline of Cox apples continued with a fall in area of nine per cent as these are replaced by more modern varieties. Perhaps surprisingly, the area of soft fruit also declined slightly, to 9,500ha, with the decline most marked in raspberries. However, glasshouse fruit rose 10 per cent in area to 222ha.

On price "there were occasions during the season where the market became oversupplied leading to heavy discounting, particularly for raspberries".

Perhaps the year's most positive trend was seen in rhubarb, which increased in area by 31 per cent to 133ha "due to resurgence in consumer interest".

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