Vegetable processors hit by low supplies, high costs

By Ahmed ElAmin

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cent Weather Producer

Europe's vegetable canners and freezers are being hit by a supply
shortage - and extra costs - due to the effects of the weather on
the continent's harvests.

The industry organisation estimates that overall extra costs caused by the exceptional conditions for all crops at between five and 10 per cent. This includes the costs of keeping operations going although supplies were irregular.

Europe had an extraordinary heat wave during the summer, followed by an exceptionally wet August. As a result, vegetable processors are coping with shortages for their main seasonal crops, and also face a considerable increase in their production costs, said Susanne Meyer secretary general of the Organisation of European Industries Transforming Fruit and Vegetables (OEITFL).

Low supplies has meant higher prices. For some produce like peas, broad beans, cauliflower and onions in the producer countries of central, eastern and northern Europe, the industry estimates the incurred cost increases at between 20 per cent to 50 per cent.

"Our members are definitely under financial strain compared to other years,"​ Meyer told "These extra costs are due to the extraordinary conditions they are facing."

Irregular supplies to the processing lines in August meant that while factories were open the whole month, many could only work at half of their capacity. Reduced volumes resulted in higher overheads per ton of finished product. The sporadic raw material flow entails higher costs for maintenance and production, and leads to extra labour costs, Meyer said.

The wet weather also meant factories had to deal with a higher percentage of waste, and had to clean their equipment more due to the wet harvest conditions and soil. Peas and beans were not at regular sizes and those processing onions had considerably higher peeling costs, she said.

As of 6 September, processors in the main producer countries such as Belgium, France, UK, Italy, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Poland, Hungary and Germany estimated pea crop shortages at between 20 per cent and 40 per cent below normal. Broad beans final volumes down as much as 35 to 50 per cent. Baby carrot shortages were put between 10 per cent to 15 per cent. Carrot supplies were down by up to 10 per cent, onions at between 20 per cent to 40 per cent, sweet corn at between five to 10 per cent, spinach at between 10 per cent to 20 per cent, and cauliflowers at between 20 per cent to 30 per cent.

The shortages in raw material supply due to the hot and dry period, which hit all main producer countries. The situation was aggravated by record levels of rainfall in August in many regions.

Heavy rain and cold weather not only delayed crops, but had also adverse effects on quantity and quality. The size of many vegetables was seriously affected and root plants showed the effects of wet rot, the OEITFL stated. Some fields, such as those used to grow spinach, were lost due to the rain, while the drought in July and rain in August made sowing impossible.

In parts of the southern regions in Spain farmers are now concerned over water shortages for irrigation during the winter, a situation which could badly affect the winter crop.

Related topics Processing & packaging

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