Preview 2009: Edibles production

Growers optimistic despite tougher trading conditions

The weak economy, hardball supermarkets and labour issues will take their toll this year, but growers still reckon that 2009 could usher in some benefits to the industry.

British Independent Fruit Growers' Association chairman John Breach said: "The weak pound will make imported material expensive and affect labour. Workers from overseas could dry up because pay packets will be hit when they take their sterling back home. The credit crunch will manifest itself in other ways.

"Supermarkets are likely to continue to try and force prices down, but there's a general feeling fuel and fertiliser costs may come down in 2009.

"The good news is that the Competition Commission is leaning more towards introducing an ombudsman and the possibility of a code of practice could be closer.

"If supermarkets have nothing to hide, they have nothing to fear and it's heartening to see an indication that some of them don't seem to object."

Soft fruit grower and former Horticulture Week Grower of the Year Anthony Snell said: "The year could be marked by supermarkets further devaluing our product by driving down prices and going for value lines to the detriment of our industry.

"Government rules on labour supply will continue to make availability harder, but 2009 will also be good for growers.

"Government PR on the benefits of fruit and veg will intensify. And though recessions are not good, growers tend to do fairly well - better than car-component makers."

British Leafy Salads Association chairman David Piccaver said: "The weather will have more of an effect on salads than the credit crunch, so we'll just have to wait and see.

"We are not immune from the influence of changing purchasing habits, but while the recession bites, consumers are likely to eat at home and go for good-value salads.

"And, fortunately, supermarkets have made strong efforts to rationalise salad bags in 2008 and this could also help sales this year.

"Sadly, we must also wait and see how the EU machinations over pesticides turn out, but the issue will be an important factor in 2009.

"The year ended well, with the Home Office announcing an increase in the size of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme, allowing 5,000 more workers into the UK.

"This is a big plus and a real vote of confidence from ministers who have seen the light on food security. This year could still be a bright one for fresh produce."


Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Read These Next

What does the Agriculture Bill mean for growers?

What does the Agriculture Bill mean for growers?

The publication of the Agriculture Bill this week formally kick-starts the Government's plans to implement a "green Brexit" for farming, the area of the economy most impacted by the UK's withdrawal from the EU from next March.

How might the Government's no-deal Brexit plans affect growers?

How might the Government's no-deal Brexit plans affect growers?

The Government maintains that a no-deal Brexit "remains unlikely given the mutual interests of the UK and the EU in securing a negotiated outcome". But it has begun publishing a series of "technical notices" intended to explain the consequences for all parts of the economy should no deal be agreed with the EU by March next year.

How big are the UK and Europe's apple and pear harvests likely to be?

How big are the UK and Europe's apple and pear harvests likely to be?

After a sizeable dip last year, Europe's apple harvest looks to be back on track and could even break recent records. But the wider global situation means it should find a ready market.


Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +

Horticulture Week Top UK FRUIT PRODUCERS

See our exclusive RANKING of UK Fruit Producers by annual turnover plus the FULL REPORT AND ANALYSIS.

Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here

Professor Geoffrey Dixon

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

Read Professor Geoffrey Dixon