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Ed Leahy

BY ED LEAHY

Heatwave heating up fruit and veg prices

Wholesalers say prices on some produce are "tremendously high" due to supply issues and high demand from hot spell

Heatwave heating up fruit and veg prices

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Wholesale prices on some products are spiking thanks to the summer heatwave, slated to be one of Britain’s hottest since 1976.

Lettuce has been one of the worst hit crops, as the 30 degree temperatures halt their growth in the field according to the British Leafy Salad Growers.

Chris Hutchinson, owner of Arthur Hutchinson Ltd at New Spitalfields Market said wholesale prices are quickly rising as a result.

“Cabbages and icebergs are suffering because they’re getting cooked in the field, prices are tremendously high. The price of lettuce has gone from £4.80 per box to £9.60."

Hutchinson said soaring temperatures were also impacting the supply of fruit in different ways, as the hot weather primes shoppers for more refreshing produce.

“Spanish watermelons are in short supply as demand is huge, with prices going up to £2 per box,” Hutchinson added.

Steve Scrivener, owner of JT Kemsley, said strawberry prices are also inflated, with supply short following a recent glut due to the warm spring. The hot weather prompted a sudden wave of harvesting across the UK, when normally northern growers deliver later, allowing a more even season.

He said some days they have had just one pallet to sell at New Spitalfields Market. “Normally Kent develops first and then as you go north you get their crop later in the season, but they have hot temperatures as well. There won’t be a lot of strawberries for the next four weeks. English strawberries are worth £2.50 per punnet,” he said.

One salad crop that is thriving in the heatwave however is watercress, which is irrigated from aquifers of cold water.

Tom Amery, managing director of The Watercress Company says: “I appreciate this is a difficult time for UK lettuce growers and empathise – we are suffering too with our baby salad leaf, spinach and lettuce crops.

“However, we really feel it as an opportunity for retailers to encourage their customers to try watercress as a salad base instead, and many people are doing so, perhaps for the first time, as sales are soaring.  Watercress not only packs a powerful health punch, but it tastes delicious with its unique peppery flavour which adds to other salad ingredients.”

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