Experts are warning against “scaremongering” as concerns mount about drought and its potential impact on food prices.

Following the dry winter, seven water companies in England have announced hosepipe bans from 5 April, sparking concerns about how the weather will affect fresh produce crops, particularly fruit & veg, salad and potato crops.

The Potato Council has issued guidance on drought to farmers, and the Environment Agency warned that fruit, veg and salad in east, central and south-east England could be affected.

John Godfrey, chairman of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, warned that crops requiring irrigation - such as potatoes and other horticulture crops - were most vulnerable.

However, it was too early to panic, he said. “We don’t want to go scaremongering, because there is still plenty of time for rain,”

NFU head of food chain, Lee Woodger, also said it was too early to tell what impact the drought would have, while Morrisons said it had not seen any problems to date but was keeping an eye on the situation and working with growers, particularly in Suffolk.

Earlier this week, a note from Shore Capital said the current drought had the potential to put food prices under pressure. “Whilst not wishing to go overboard with dramatic assertions at this stage, there could clearly be rising implications for certain crop yields from the east and south of England,” analyst Clive Black wrote.