Grower warns of ongoing threats to cauliflower production

Low prices and imports affecting local cauliflower growers.

A cauliflower grower has said many more growers of the crop will imminently cease trading as foreign imports and low retail prices continue to add pressure to the sector. Geoff Philpott, of Broadstairs, Kent, said following news that Isle of Thanet-based grower Robert Montgomery is to stop production at the end of this season’s crop, many more are set to follow suit. Philpott said another six in Cornwall are set to quit by the end of the year. His profits for cauliflower are down 20 per cent on last year. Due to the “very harsh environment” he said “there will be a big downturn in acreage in British cauliflowers this year”. He said it was due to low prices offered to British growers and the large amount of foreign imports. Philpott claimed he had found out a supermarket was paying double for German cauliflowers. He said: “We are having to subsidise for these foreign imports and what the consumers don’t seem to realise is those cauliflowers aren’t as traceable as British. “Supermarkets need to tighten up on quality on our shelves. It puts consumers off when they see wilted, poor-quality cauliflowers that have been there too long.” He said he knew many people who had voiced their concerns to the Competition Commission in the hope changes can be made. Philpott added that he would be keeping his 120ha for the foreseeable future as he was able to supplement cauliflowers with other crops such as potatoes. Another market source said a mixture of economic and social ingredients were seeing the reduction of cauliflower production in Britain, including climate, low sales, milder winters and changing consumer tastes.

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