With provenance and sustainability high on both the UK political agenda and in consumers’ priorities, the imminent departure of the UK from the EU appears to offer the country’s protected produce sector an opportunity to turn back the historic tide and re-establish greater national self-sufficiency.
If such a reversal is underway, it is not yet borne out by the official figures. Defra’s horticulture statistics bulletin for 2018, which largely covers the accounting period on which the companies are ranked in our Top 25 Glasshouse Salad Growers Report, shows that the value of protected vegetables fell by 0.6% to £331m over the period — a £1.9m decrease.
Production volumes also fell slightly for a third consecutive year, compounded by the closure of the £18m-turnover Lea Valley glasshouse salad grower Stubbins (previously our number 8 producer by turnover) at the end of 2018, while imports of vegetables, predominantly from Spain and the Netherlands, rose by nearly 3% in value over the period.
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