Covid-19 costs continue to erode growers’ confidence
A report by Andersons Centre and funded by the NFU, British Apples and Pears, British Summer Fruits and British Growers Association, shows that the Covid-19 pandemic has increased the costs of production for all fruit and vegetable growers. This comes most significantly from a rise in employment costs of up to 15%. For many growers, employment is their most significant cost, accounting for 40-70% of all costs. Five main categories were noted in which employment costs had increased, including worker availability and recruitment, training, accommodation, transport and logistics and operations. The increases, the report states, come on top of a 34% rise in labour costs over the past five years. As a result, there are low levels of confidence in the sector, and businesses are less able to make investments, meaning there is real concern that future planting could face a downturn. NFU horticulture board chair, Ali Capper, noted “It will not be long before this becomes unviable for many farm businesses and they will have to significantly reduce or halt investment in their business”. Capper also noted, however, that “this sector is very ambitious to expand”, and in order to do that “growers need certainty, confidence and fair returns to make that investment.”
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