2013 outlook: Field-scale vegetables

What does 2013 hold for UK farming? Farmers Weekly and farm business consultant Andersons have teamed up to provide an outlook. Today we look at field-scale vegetables.

Sustained pressure on the sector, from the weather and from prospective lenders who are examining viability much more closely, continues to increase.

Only the committed are prepared to go on, facing margins and high levels of risk that do not provide adequate recompense for such high-pressure farming, says Mr Wootton.

“There is a general reduction in area, assisted by the profitability of the combinable sector, at least until this harvest. Signs of consolidation are becoming more prevalent – it is important to have good relationships with your buyers and to ensure robust agreements are in place.”

Key points and management advice

  • More producer consolidation likely

  • Improvements needed in retailer practice

  • Prepare for low margins and high risk – review business objectives

  • Lender scrutiny increasing

  • Ensure good relationships and robust agreements with buyers

The retail sector is not helping to address the problem, he notes. “We see two different messages – one of long-term partnership from the high-profile public figures, and a rather different approach from the buyers. It is difficult to take talk of sustainability seriously while this continues.

“The sector is not seeing a reason to invest – it remains to be seen if serious thought is being given to food supply and sustainability in the retailers’ offices, or merely the creation of headlines.”

Commentary based on Andersons’ Outlook 2013

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