04 Dec 2023

No dialogue between berry growers and large retailers in UK

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British berry growers have warned of a growing "disconnect" between retailer prices and rising production costs, potentially leading the UK to import berries at higher volumes. While retailers are experiencing increased berry sales, growers argue that the prices offered do not keep up with the escalating production costs. 

The British Berry Growers trade body revealed significant disparities between retail and farmgate prices in its annual autumn survey. Growers report that, despite a 14.8% increase in retail shelf prices for strawberries since 2021, average returns to growers have only risen by 2.3%. Similar trends are observed in raspberries and blueberries.

The survey reflects concerns among two-thirds of growers who express little confidence in the future, with damaged confidence in retail partners. Growers accuse many retailers of prioritizing price over fair returns. Despite a 7.7% increase in volume sales of berries in the past five months, the industry calls for urgent safeguards, including extended seasonal worker visas, continued funding for industry development, a national planning framework for key infrastructure, and a planned export business from the UK production.

The chairman of British Berry Growers, Nick Marston, warns that if the situation does not improve, the UK may be forced to import berries at a greater scale, potentially leading to a shortfall in meeting consumer demand. The industry emphasizes the importance of investing in the sector to prevent the decline of the UK industry, which would have significant repercussions for UK horticulture, berry growers, and retailers. The sector urges supermarkets to prioritize fair returns for growers and calls on the government to address seasonal labor uncertainties and ensure long-term growth, emphasizing the broader implications for UK food security, biodiversity, and public health.

Read the full article: The Grocer

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