UK set for higher food prices following extreme weather

By Eric Leister, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
August 30, 2018, 6:29:33 AM EDT

Extreme weather this year has set the stage for price hikes on some popular foods to continue in the coming months.

While the long hot summer was welcome by those hoping to enjoy outdoor picnics and barbecues, the price to enjoy these events will continue to rise.

An average increase in food prices of at least 5 percent is expected, resulting in higher grocery costs for households across the United Kingdom.

UK Drought 8/27

A view from Primrose Hill shows parched grass and cracked soil from the lack of rain during what has been the driest summer for many years in London, Wednesday, July 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Household food bills are estimated to increase by £7.15 per month, according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research.

A combination of the harsh cold and snow from The Beast from the East in late winter and early spring and prolonged hot, dry spells during the late spring and summer has devastated crops and put stress on livestock.

Since the beginning of May, temperatures in London have averaged 3.3 degrees Celsius (4.9 degrees Fahrenheit) above normal in London. During the same period rainfall was only 39 percent of normal.

AP Produce 8/27

In this June 14, 2018, file photo, nectarines, plums, mangos and peaches are marked at a fruit stand in a grocery store on Thursday, June 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)

Some impacts have already been seen as “farm gate” prices of wheat, strawberries, carrots and lettuce have all risen by 20 percent or more since March, according to the European Commission.

Meat prices are expected to rise later this year as the cost of feed rises following the drought conditions during the summer months, resulting in lower herd numbers. Farmers were already suffering from increased feed cost due to the prolonged cold weather in the spring, which kept animals from feeding on grass.

"Rain will be infrequent across much of England the next several weeks, worsening the current drought across the region," said AccuWeather Meteorologist Tyler Roys.

"The best chance for beneficial rainfall will be across western Scotland and Northern Ireland," said Roys.

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While the U.K. has been hit with extreme weather this year affecting local agriculture, imports from Europe will also have higher prices, as record-breaking heat has lowered harvest outlooks.

The German Farmers’ Association predicts this year’s winter wheat harvest to be the lowest since 2003, with the entire European Union wheat production to be the lowest in at least six years.

A warm and dry start to autumn is expected across much of northern and western Europe before much-needed rainfall returns by late October and November.

This rainfall will be too late to salvage this year’s harvest, but will increase crucial soil moisture for future crops.

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