First Eggs, Now Tomatoes – What's Going On With The UK's Food Supply?

Here's why you might struggle to find tomatoes in your local supermarket.
Nadezhda Soboleva / EyeEm via Getty Images

It’s not just eggs that are likely to be absent from some supermarket shelves this winter. The UK is likely to see a shortage of tomatoes and other crops, the National Farmers Union (NFU) has warned, due to ongoing potential supply problems.

Rising fuel, fertiliser and feed costs are piling pressure onto farmers, according to the NFU. The UK is “sleepingwalking” into a food supply crisis, it added.

The union is now urging the government to help farmers. However, the government believes the UK has a “highly resilient food supply chain”.

The latest warning comes as Brits are struggling to buy eggs, as a result of rising costs and avian flu.

The costs of feeding hens has gone up by around 50% and the price of fuel has increased by 30%, the NFU says. Though the price of eggs has gone up by approximately 45p across all major supermarkets, this extra money isn’t necessarily being extended on to farmers.

“Some poultry producers have been facing skyrocketing energy and feed costs for months now, as well as increases in other input costs including fuel, labour and packaging which are all adding to the overall costs of production on farm,” the National Farmers Union (NFU) poultry board chair James Mottershead said.

Now, the NFU has shared that food producers in other areas are experiencing similar problems.

Yields of energy-intensive crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers and pears were likely to hit their lowest level this year since records began in 1985, according to the NFU.

Additionally, it said that milk prices are likely to drop below the cost of production whilst beef farmers are contemplating limiting the amount of cows they breed.

The union criticises the prices of fertilisers for farmers, which has tripled since 2019 whilst the cost of feed and diesel have increased by 75%.

Prices for wholesale gas have also increased more than six-fold during that time and businesses importing food from Europe have seen extra red tape and checks due to Brexit.

“Shoppers up and down the country have for decades had a guaranteed supply of high-quality affordable food produced to some of the highest animal welfare, environmental and food safety standards in the world,” said NFU president Minette Batters.

“But British food is under threat… at a time when global volatility is threatening the stability of the world’s food production, food security and energy security.”