Operators warned to prepare for higher prices and potential shortages

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Waterlogged land: wet weather has impacted a range of crops including potatoes (image: Getty/Dougal Waters)
Waterlogged land: wet weather has impacted a range of crops including potatoes (image: Getty/Dougal Waters)

Related tags Food Finance Multi-site pub operators

Wet and wild weather in recent months could result in sharp price rises across key food and drink lines, operators have been warned.

Heavy rain has left large areas of agricultural land waterlogged, resulting in many crops such as potatoes, carrots, salad ingredients and wheat have been delayed or damaged, according to buying expert Lynx Purchasing,

Managing director Rachel Dobson said: “As the weather improves and the sun shines, it should encourage more people to go out and enjoy hospitality venues.

“However, the impact of the wet weather will be felt in the supply chain for a while longer.”

This comes as the buying specialist published its Summer 2024 edition of its Market Forecast. Dobson urged operators to prepare for potential shortages and price hikes.

She added: “Although the headline rate of inflation​ is expected continue to fall across the summer and into autumn, operators don’t always see the full benefit when there are specific problems.

“Our advice is hospitality businesses should prepare for higher prices and potential shortages​ across a range of produce."

Import impact

Dobson said: “We won’t know the full picture until produce is harvested however, we do know after the very wet winter and spring, many farmers have either had to plant later than planned or even abandon flooded fields entirely. Europe experienced similar issues, meaning imports are also affected."

“The challenge for restaurants, pubs and other hospitality businesses is supermarkets are able to use their buying muscle to secure available supplies, which also helps to dampen any impact on the headline inflation rate.

“Hospitality has to compete for whatever supplies are left, with prices higher and quality perhaps not as good.”

The forecast also revealed the long, hot and dry summer in much of the Mediterranean last year meant olive trees were damaged, causing poor crops and driving olive oil prices up to an all-time high.

Stocks are already significantly down on previous years and are likely to run very low before the next harvest, Lynx warned.

Farmers' confidence

“As the well-publicised olive oil shortage shows, the challenges facing food and drink producers go beyond the UK,” Dobson said.

“Along with extreme weather events around the world, the impact of conflict in Ukraine and the Middle East means increases in the time and cost of shipments.

“One concern closer to home is the most recent NFU survey of confidence among UK farmers is at the lowest levels ever recorded, not simply because of the weather but also the wider economic headwinds.

Serving local produce​ is one way hospitality operators can offer a point of difference and without more support, there may be fewer UK farmers around to supply it.

“The best advice to operators is to place orders in good time, keep speaking to suppliers about availability and keep menu descriptions flexible to allow for changes if needed.”

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