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Insight of the Day: Why prices of bread, beer and biscuits will soar this year

The price of bread, beer, and biscuits may rise this year due to the impact of unusually wet weather during autumn and winter on UK harvests. Research conducted by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) reveals concerning trends in crop production.

Here are the key findings:

  1. Crop Decline: The ECIU analyzed crop area forecasts from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHBD) and government yield data. It indicates that production of wheat, barley, oats, and oilseed rape could decrease by four million tonnes compared to 2023, which translates to a reduction of 17.5%. Furthermore, if we compare it to the average production between 2015 and 2023, the decline could be even more significant, reaching over five million tonnes or 21.2%1.

  2. Weather Impact: The unusually wet autumn led to lower levels of planting, and relentless storms and flooding during winter exacerbated losses for British farmers. The situation poses a real risk of increased prices for essential items like bread, beer, and biscuits due to the poor harvest1.

  3. Wheat Production: Among the affected crops, wheat production faces particular challenges. The ECIU estimates a staggering fall of more than a quarter (26.5%) compared to 2023. Milling wheat, essential for making bread, must meet higher quality requirements, which become more difficult for farmers to achieve in persistently wet conditions1.

  4. Global Context: The warning comes at a time when food prices are starting to decrease after a period of soaring inflation triggered by the global gas price crisis. However, the impact on wheat production remains a concern1.

  5. Long-Term Considerations: Extreme weather events, like the wetter winters experienced recently, pose significant threats to UK food security. As climate change continues, the frequency of such weather patterns is expected to rise. Supporting farmers through green farming schemes becomes crucial for their resilience against floods and droughts1.

In summary, the wet weather’s effect on crop yields may lead to higher prices for staple foods, affecting consumers and emphasizing the need for sustainable agricultural practices.

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