Extreme weather threatens fresh produce and wine

Supplies of British fresh produce and wine are under threat from climate change, prompting calls for the whole food chain to act faster to limit carbon emissions.

Severe flooding or storms have affected more than half of all UK farms in the past decade. Drought and extreme heat last year resulted in a 20% drop in yield for potato farmers; as a result chips were 3cm shorter.

Carrots (yields reportedly down 25% to 30%) and onions (reportedly down 40%) were also hampered in 2018 by warmer than average temperatures. Some English vineyards reported up to 75% of their crop being damaged by late spring frosts in 2017.

Indeed, the early forecasts that climate change could some herald advantages for UK growers now appear misplaced. “Farmers and growers are used to dealing with fluctuations in the weather but if we have two or three extreme years in a row it has the potential to put growers out of business,” said Lee Abbey, head of horticulture at the NFU.

The warnings come in a new report by the Climate Coalition, which draws on research by the Priestley International Centre for Climate. It also outlines actions to reduce emissions on farm and help farmers adapt to the changing climate.

Raymond Blanc OBE, chef and president of the Sustainable Restaurant Association, said: “Without carrots, strawberries and even the humble potato, we would lose so many incredible flavours and such variety from our menus. As chefs and restaurateurs, we must step up and play our part: reducing emissions, and wasting less food

The full report is available here.

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