Fresh produce output rise outrun by energy cost hike

The value of Britain's fresh produce output showed a positive rise of more than 12 per cent last year, to just over £2.6bn.

Fresh vegetables and potatoes showed particularly strong growth, while fruit held steady. All three categories have shown considerable growth since 2005, rising 42 per cent across the sector.

However, set against these is the steady rise in costs, particularly energy, which increased nearly 10 per cent across agriculture as a whole last year, and nearly 55 per cent since 2005. The overall profitability of UK farming fell by 3.6 per cent in 2010 as the industry saw input costs rise by 5.5 per cent.

UK cabbage production rose six per cent in 2010 to just over 248,000 tonnes, with nearly two-thirds being harvested in winter. But British Brassica Growers Association chairman Phillip Effingham said this figure was misleading.

"Sales have been falling in recent years, and there is a lot of wastage in the industry,"

he told Grower. "The rise in oil-driven costs has almost meant a price deflation in real terms."

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Professor Geoffrey Dixon

GreenGene International chair Geoff Dixon on the business of fresh produce production

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