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Turbulent weather over the past 18 months had already wrought a significant financial toll on some of the country’s major produce suppliers, even before the latest issues caused by flooding, accounts have shown.

Results posted this month at Companies House by Lancashire-based Huntapac Produce and Pembrokeshire-based Puffin Produce both cited weather-based issues as key challenges to profitability.

Root veg specialist Huntapac fell to a £3.4m loss in the year to 30 June 2023, down from a £115k operating profit in its previous accounting period. That was despite turnover rising slightly, by 1.2% to £52.5m.

The supplier’s annual report and accounts pointed to the business being exposed to “unfavourable weather conditions, therefore significantly reducing the yield per harvested acre”.

This was a “national issue as other growers experienced shortages of crop, which led to produce running out on shelf”, it added, leading Huntapac to have to source produce for its customers from overseas at a higher cost to the business.

Huntapac said the current financial year was “exciting” as it looked to grow business via new customers. 

However, it warned weather remained a challenge, pointing to the “largest rainfall in decades” seen across the UK over the past six months.

Puffin Produce, meanwhile, reported a fall in operating profits (on continuing operations) for the same time period of 83.2% to £171,269, against a rise in turnover of 21.8% to £31.9m.

Despite remaining positive over the growth opportunities within potatoes, veg and flowers, the supplier pointed to a “very challenging year” for the business amid rising costs and the “uncertainties of weather”, driven by the dry summer of 2022.

Their comments were echoed by Scotland-based Kettle Produce, which published its accounts in March and cited “substantial rainfall followed by frost”, which “harmed the business” in the year to 27 May 2023 as it posted operating losses of £2.6m.

The accounts come amid growing concerns over the viability of many farm businesses due to the impact of bad weather and mounting criticism of Defra’s new flood support scheme for the growing sector.

The NFU has highlighted “major issues” with the scheme, designed to specifically help victims of Storm Henk in January.

Issues included the fact the scheme’s scope was too narrow, leading to a lack of assistance for the countless farmers who had been affected by the many more examples of recent extreme wet weather since last autumn.