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The Lea Valley Growers Association said producers were still facing ’substantial cost price increases’ for inputs such as fertilisers and packaging, plus a rise in the minimum wage

A major glasshouse grower has warned of likely salad shortages in the mults again this year, due to the misplaced prioritisation of imports.

Lea Valley Growers Association this week warned its members, which supply 75% of the cucumbers, peppers and aubergines grown in the UK, had decided to plant later this year due to lower prices from the supermarkets. 

“Unfortunately, retailers have not learned the lessons of last years’ empty shelves and rationing,” said secretary of LVGA Lee Stiles.

He revealed growers were facing “substantial cost price increases” for inputs such as fertiliser and packaging, in addition to a rise in the minimum wage. This was despite the price of gas, used to heat glass houses, becoming more stable.

“Like last year, market prices in Europe and North Africa are rising and overseas growers are reluctant to honour fixed prices for UK supermarkets, when higher returns can be achieved closer to home for them,” he said.

“Retailers are again in the position of either paying the higher prices in order to secure produce or taking the decision to leave the shelves empty,” he added. As it stands, UK growers are not receiving the required cost price increase to encourage them to plant and fill the supply gap, Stiles said.

As The Grocer reported earlier this month, shortages have also been expected in winter crops such as brassicas, potatoes and carrots, as poor weather has impacted on the planting and harvesting of core lines.

It comes as on-shelf prices for consumers have continued to rise in the core salad lines in the last month.

According to analysis of Assosia data for The Grocer’s Key Value Items tracker (below), some lines of tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers have risen by as much as 20% since the end of December.

Morrisons’ The Best Sweet Pointed Peppers two pack has increased by 22.2% in the last four weeks contributing to an overall annual rise of 38.7%.

The next highest monthly rise was Lidl’s Oaklands Cherry Tomatoes (250g) which increased by 16.81%.

Meanwhile, Tesco Nightingale Farms Cherry Tomatoes (250g), Sainsbury’s Stamford Street Co. Cherry Tomatoes 250g, Just Essentials by Asda Cherry Tomatoes 250G, Morrisons’ Savers Cherry Tomatoes 250g and Aldi’s Everyday Essentials Cherry Tomatoes 250g have all risen by 15% in the last four weeks.

The highest rise in cucumbers was 14.7% since the end of last year with Aldi’s organic cucumber which rose from 95p to £1.09.