Fruit and veg processors have warned customers that prices will continue to rise for years to come.

Pressure to turn land over to biofuel crops and the wafer-thin margins in horticulture mean more price rises are inevitable, they said.

The EU's 10%-binding target for biofuels in road fuel makes it financially very attractive for farmers to grow biofuel crops, according to the European Vegetable Processors and Canners' Association.

In the UK a number of large vegetable growers have already quit production as a result. David Piccaver, chairman of the Processed Vegetable Growers' Association, said pea growers needed to see returns rise 30% over the next few years to convince people not to leave. "After the poor harvest last year several growers worth 5,000 to 7,000 tonnes each have quit," he said. "Combined with dry conditions, which have delayed planting in many areas, it looks as if production will be down this year."