British consumers are set to face a long winter this year, as food prices are expected to skyrocket following a year of extreme weather conditions.
Economists have warned that food prices could go up by at least 5 per cent as a result of the heatwave and the Beast from the East.
Extended spells of frigid and baking weather seen over the last year will likely increase household food bills by an estimated £7.15 a month or £85.80 a year, the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) says.
The group said this is due to the unpredictable weather having put ‘particular stress on farming costs and yields’. Which in turn has caused the prices of some staples to increase by up to 80 per cent.
Extreme weather conditions will increase costs to UK consumers by £45 million per week
The price of wheat for bread rose by a fifth, strawberries by 28 per cent, carrots by 41 per cent and lettuce by 61 per cent.
The farm gate price of carrots rose by 80 per cent, according to European Commission figures used by the economists.
The Cebr said: ‘Summer 2018 has been one of the warmest in living memory, with above average temperatures recorded since April and dry spells lasting more than 50 days in parts of the country.
Sun seekers have enjoyed the heatwave, however extreme weather conditions have been blamed for the slump in growth across the economy
‘While this has made Britain’s weather more conducive to barbecuing, it looks set to raise the price of the food on the grill and the drink in hand.’
In total, the Cebr expects the extreme weather will increase costs to UK consumers by £45 million per week, although the full effects could take up to 18 months to filter through to customers.
Freezing weather at the start of the year was blamed for a slump in growth across the UK economy, with gross domestic product (GDP) falling to 0.2 per cent in the first quarter.
The price of red meat is set to fall marginally in the short run, while domestic dairy yields have also been hit
The Bank of England’s figures for the second quarter showed the economy had rebounded, however the hot weather was blamed in part for a slip in the country’s services sector in July.
The Cebr says that the production of wheat is a particular concern due to the nation’s appetite for derived products.
The majority of the UK’s grain is imported from Europe, where record-breaking weather has also hit production, with the harvest expected to be 5 per cent down in 2018.
The impact of the extreme weather is not limited to arable produce, with domestic dairy yields also hit.
The cold weather at the beginning of the year has meant farmers have experienced a weaker harvest than usual
Poor grass growth saw production fall for 11 weeks in a row and the farm gate price of butter rise by just under a quarter since March.
The heat has also seen pig fertility fall, pushing up the price of piglets by 8 per cent.
The Cebr said: ‘The price of red meat is set to fall marginally in the short run. This is as farmers look to sell livestock earlier than normal to reduce the burden on grazing land.
‘Still, in the longer run, prices are set to rise as feed availability is affected by a weak harvest.’
The group also said that inclement weather in France has hit winemakers in Bordeaux, Champagne and Cognac.