Sales growth in the UK fresh produce industry has sunk to its lowest level for the past eight years, falling from 4.9 per cent to 1.3 per cent in the past 12 months.
The data, released by market analyst Plimsoll Publishing, reflects Brexit uncertainty at British fresh produce companies and, although some businesses’ latest accounts pre-date it, a difficult growing season last year.
This was marked by the so-called Beast from the East, which brought excessive rain throughout the spring, and the hottest summer since 1976, creating disastrous conditions for vegetable production.
When compared with its counterparts in Spain, France and Italy, the fresh produce industry in Britain saw the lowest levels of average sales growth in the last year.
However, the greatest decline in year-on-year sales growth was seen in Spain, where companies’ average growth fell from 7.6 per cent two years ago to 2.8 per cent in the past year.
UK fresh produce companies with sales over £45.1 million continue to dominate the market, accounting for over two-thirds (70.5 per cent) of market share. This figure remains fairly static, having fallen by just 0.5 per cent compared to the previous year.
Meanwhile, firms with sales below £3.8m represent 4.4 per cent of market share.
The data, compiled from company accounts filed at Companies House, represents the performance of 924 companies in the British fresh produce industry.