Soft fruit growers enjoyed a particularly good year, although farm business consultant Andersons has warned all fruit growers to recognise that this recent success was "only one step in continuing to adapt to a business environment where wage inflation and regulation add to operating costs".
Consultant John Pelham commented: "Good business management and produce marketing will continue to be vital to the success of producers throughout this sector."
Robert Pascall, a soft and top fruit grower and member of the NFU Board for Horticulture, agreed that good marketing will be vital to growers' continuing success.
"We are subject to very strong customers who are fairly determined to give their own customers the best deal they can," Pascall warned. "So unless we are strong enough to withstand our position we will be exploited."
However, he added: "I do not see that it's necessarily going to be much easier this year, but hopefully our marketing agencies will be strong enough to ensure that we get a fair deal."
Andersons predicted that the vegetable sector is in for another tough year, with continued "supply chain pressure" resulting in a reduction in the number of growers.
Phillip Effingham, chairman of the Brassica Growers Association, agreed that the market "is going to remain very tough".
He explained: "Margins will continue to be compromised and our focus on making a profit will be reducing costs — by automations, fine-tuning our field operations and negotiating better costs."
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