The UK is facing a looming chicken crisis and potentially even more fruit and vegetable shortages due to prolonged cold weather, industry experts have warned.
Rising costs are pushing poultry farms to the brink as many owners are now having to decide between cutting the size of their flocks or not continuing altogether.
The British Poultry Council warned: ‘Without a fair price for product, British poultry is at breaking point.
‘The price consumers pay for food does not reflect the cost of producing it. Such a system is unsustainable.’
The trade association’s chief executive Richard Griffiths added: ‘The drive to keep food affordable under exceptional market conditions where the cost of production is not being returned through the marketplace is rendering poultry meat businesses unviable.’
The British Poultry Council further added that instead of trying to match cost productions with what people can afford, we should be working to ensure everyone can afford food.
‘Access to safe, affordable, nutritious food is always necessary, not just in the face of a cost-of-living crisis, but the focus on keeping prices low in this climate is understandable.
‘Doing so, however, fails to acknowledge large costs incurred elsewhere in our supply chain – energy, feed, labour, packaging, transport, and so on, all on top of ongoing Brexit and avian influenza challenges.
‘British poultry plays a crucial role in realising a vision for a UK food system that feeds people, contributes to their wellbeing, tackles social inequality, and ensures a liveable climate for all.
‘Things need to change for the sake of British food and farming. The fact that now is the hardest time for Government to confront this problem is exactly why they should.’
The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has also warned that we may be facing more fruit and vegetable shortages as temperatures in Spain have soared to record levels.
In stark comparison, the UK growing season has got off to a late start due to cold weather.
Experts at the NFU also claimed that recent salad shortages have come from the UK’s reliance on imported fruit and vegetables.
Christine McDowell, from the NFU, said a rise in production costs has added to the problem.
‘British growers continue to face significant cost increases, such as energy and labour, and many simply can’t afford to keep producing food with the current returns.’
Last month shoppers were forced to limit their purchases of peppers, as the vegetable becomes the latest in a long line of produce that is in short supply due to cold weather in Europe.
Unseasonably cold weather in Spain meant peppers are growing at a slower rate, forcing stores like Morrisons to limit purchases to two packs per customer.
In some stores such as Waitrose, the section where peppers are usually stocked remain bare.
There were similar issues earlier this year as supermarkets were forced to ration fruit and veg on the shelves.
Some shoppers in Asda stores were told in February they could buy up to three packs each of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, lettuce, salad bags, broccoli, cauliflower and raspberries at a time as supplies ran empty in a number of outlets.
( Source: DailyMail )
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