British strawberry fields may not be forever

Foodservice companies could have to look overseas for strawberries as British suppliers struggle to come to terms with the National Living Wage.

The NLW is costing growers 58% of their profit and this has put the sector under serious threat, according to hospitality consultants Beacon. The price of lettuce, cucumber and cherry tomatoes may also increase as producers of labour-intense crops struggle to come to terms with the new wage rate.

“Our suppliers are warning us that the landscape of soft fruit farming and fresh produce is under threat with the possibility of cheaper foreign imports replacing British produce on supermarket shelves and on restaurant menus,” said Beacon MD Paul Connelly.

A report by the National Farmers Union in February suggested that over the next four years the NLW could cost fresh food businesses up to 158% of current business profit.

Next month, 140,000 servings of strawberries and cream are expected to be served during Wimbledon fortnight.

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