Vegetable prices to soar due to cold winter

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The price of chips is set to soar, along with the cost of other vegetables, due to the severe winter, which has hit harvests.

The cost of potatoes has risen by half, and retailers say more French varieties will go on sale.

Rain, snow and ice across the UK has led to the lowest-yielding and poorest-quality crops since the drought of 1976.

The Potato Council yesterday warned stocks were down by almost 20 per cent on last year because of the heavy rain.

And Jersey Royals are likely to be at least a month late, because planting in January was delayed.

Graeme Beattie, the managing director of Branston Potatoes – Tesco’s main supplier – said: “Customers are likely to notice the hike, but unfortunately it has become unavoidable.

“Nothing grows in these temperatures. It’s the beginning of April and I cannot see a single leaf, which is incredibly rare.

“We were hoping to be able to catch up from the terrible season just gone, but with the snow and rain we’re having to delay planting for two weeks.”

He said shoppers should expect to see more French potato varieties – such as the Belle de Fontenay – in supermarkets as varieties including Maris Piper fail to grow.

A 2.5kg (5.5lb) bag of potatoes has gone up by an average of 43 per cent, from £1.35 this time last year to £1.93, and is likely to rise even further as growers suffer further weather-related setbacks.

Shoppers have also been told to expect higher prices on carrots, peas and tomatoes, because much of the planned crop was not planted or is being stunted by the lack of light.

Experts say vegetables including broccoli and peas, and bulbs – such as onions – are expected to go up by at least 15p per lb, while seasonal British fruit will be at least 6 per cent dearer than last year.

March saw the largest month-on-month rise in the price of fresh food for three years, according to the British Retail Consortium.