As the planet gets warmer and weather conditions become more and more extreme, UK retailers must prepare for increasingly unpredictable imports. Fruit and veg are particularly vulnerable to the precarious climate, and, given that over £20bn of UK imports comes from the stuff, it is worth going over exactly how this is happening. Here are five ways UK stores will be affected by the hottest summer the Northern hemisphere has seen on record.
1. Pear prices are set to rise after severe weather in Northern Italy has hit harvests hard. This comes just a year after the Hebei region of pear growers in China reported extreme weather and a subsequent late start to the growing season and a significant dent in production.
2. Heavy rains in Western China are affecting apple production, interrupting vital markets for the area and even changing the pace of local festivals. In the landlocked Shaanxi area, many Fuji apples have been turning back to green once picked, a sign that the fruit is unusually unripe for the time of year.
3. In the Dominican Republic, the rivers Constanza and Tireo burst their banks, flooding communities in the Tireo municipal district. Some critics have blamed the destruction of the upland Valle Nuevo National Park. Either way, significant potato, cauliflower and other cruciferous crops have been decimated.
4. Spain, one of the UK’s largest importers of fruits and vegetables, has had many plants ruined by recent rainfall and subsequent floods. Many lettuce crops were declared unrecoverable, but President of the Artichoke of Spain Association Antonio Galindo says that artichokes may have actually benefitted from the water levels, with as little as a 25% loss in viable crops. However, the degree of flooding may still cause rotting if water levels do not change.
5. The European Environment Agency reports that increasing droughts and rainfall are generating climates so extreme that the UK could lose out on 16% of what agri-industries are currently worth. A significant portion of this comes from the effect on large European countries from which the UK imports the majority of its fruits and vegetables. Spain is a key example.
This is to say nothing of the uncertainty of post-Brexit trade. In a country that imports 40% of its consumable products, it may well be down to up-and-coming CEOs, directors and executives to navigate the uncertain waters of UK food retail in the coming years.