UK cucumber and pepper crops face energy and labor crunch

The UK will harvest less than half of its normal quantity of cucumbers and sweet peppers this year after many glasshouse growers opted not to plant them in the face of surging energy costs and labor shortages, according to the trade group for the main growing region.

Lee Stiles, secretary of the Hertfordshire-based Lea Valley Growers Association, which represents businesses that grow three-quarters of the country’s cucumbers and sweet peppers, said about half of the glasshouses were empty this year. The remainder would yield less than usual because of growers cutting down on heating to save costs, he said.

It is now too late to plant further crops, meaning the UK will not make up the lost volumes this year, Stiles added, predicting a 50 to 60 percent drop in yields for cucumbers and sweet peppers nationally in 2022. “The gas price is still quite volatile, and trying to get staff this time of year is nearly impossible, so it’s not worth planting, firstly because of the gas prices, and secondly, there is no guarantee they’re going to get the labor,” he said. 

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