Is there a link between climate change and the increasing fruit and vegetable prices?

Recent data from the Office of National Statistics reveals food inflation rates for the beginning of 2023 have increased by more than 6x in the last decade. But why?

Climate change is the answer. Unpredictable and uncontrollable weather limiting harvest productivity both consumers and farmers are suffering as a result.  And so, fresh fruit and vegetable prices are increasing.

Madeline Lees, a natural science student at the University of Leeds commented that “climate change was the issue.” Case studies prove that the climate crisis is a significant factor as it lowers the productivity of the soil, making it harder to cultivate”. Meaning less product is for sale and is costing both customers and sellers more. 

Madeline expressed the struggles she faces with affording fresh vegetables and fruits at their current prices. “Since September my food shop has gone up by £15 a week as a result of rising fruit and vegetable costs.” “Fresh is more expensive”.  

The National Farmers Union President, Minette Batters said: “It’s not surprising that food inflation has remained high given farmers and growers are continuing to experience increased production costs, particularly those linked to high energy use.

“When I met Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in December, he recognised the importance of energy security to food security. We now need to see this reflected in government support” (Minette Batters NFU). 

Professor Neil Ward, who specialises in rural economics notes that new research is underway to begin to tackle this issue.“Agricultural productivity is an increasing priority for scientific research, given the challenges of climate change but also geopolitical instability and the desire to at least maintain national self-sufficiency levels.” 

As a local climate researcher Professor Ward added, “Centres like the John Innes Centre in Norwich conduct research to improve the productivity of crops like wheat through improved plant breeding techniques.”

It is clear that further research in needed in this area in order to tackle this issue.

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