Figures show fragility of field veg sector

Field vegetable production will continue to come under pressure in 2009, according to consultant Andersons.

The firm’s head of business research, Francis Mordaunt, said: “There is continued pressure on this fresh produce sector. The table below shows the decline in area over the last 10 years, with all categories losing acres.

 000ha    1997    2007     % change
 Roots & Onions     31.75 28.70  -9.6
 Brassicas  35.93 26.40   -26.5
 Legumes  65.93 44.69   -32.2
 Others  17.65 15.86   -23.5

“Roots include carrots, parsnips, turnips and beetroot, and “Others” includes crops like asparagus, leeks and lettuce. The statistics also show a decline in volumes and in value in all sectors except for roots and onions. In this category there was a 4% increase in tonnage from a 10% decline in area and a 13% increase in value.”

“The vining pea sector has seen a bumper crop, after a disastrous year in 2007. The collapse of combinable crop commodity prices came soon enough to affect contract negotiations, handing processors a lever to reduce prices and the competition for processing space will put pressure on margins in the short term.

“Only the strong will continue in onions, a market which is leaving little margin unless outstanding results are achieved. Further rationalisation of this sector is anticipated. The whole fresh produce industry is looking more fragile and a continued cause for concern.”

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