The price of bread will rise after the worst wheat harvest in 40 years was caused by a year of unsettled weather.
Extreme weather since last fall could cause wheat yields to fall by as much as 40 percent and push up the prices of bread and other baked goods.
Some millers have already started charging 10 per cent more for flour and there are fears a no-deal Brexit will push prices up further.
“We’re looking at a 30% reduction in our good fields, and even more in some of our poor fields,” Matt Culley, a Hampshire arable farmer who chairs the NFU’s Crop Board, told the BBC.
Extreme weather since last fall could cause wheat yields to fall by as much as 40 percent and push up prices of bread and other baked goods (file image)
Extremely wet weather followed by intense, drought-causing heat is responsible for the poor harvest, according to the UK Met Office.
The National Farmers’ Union said farmers were hit by a triple storm that began with heavy rains last fall when the crops were being planted.
More intense rain continued into February, the wettest on record, with storms Ciara, Dennis and Jorge ravaging fields.
Plants struggled to grow in the water-clogged soil, but weeks of intense heat in the months that followed brought drought that further hampered growth.
Another heavy rainstorm in August delayed the harvest and grain elevators are nearly empty where a farmer says they should be full.
Of what’s left in the fields, most is only good for fodder, said another.
Some millers have already started charging 10 per cent more for flour and there are fears a no-deal Brexit will push prices up further. In the picture, a French farmer drove a tractor over wheat stubble on Tuesday
A Met Office spokesman said: “Climate projections for the UK show a trend towards hotter, drier summers and warmer, wetter winters.”
Alex Waugh, who runs the National Association of British and Irish Millers, said the price of wheat has been rising steadily since the summer, meaning flour prices will rise.
“It’s got to a point where we can no longer afford to sell flour at the price we are at,” Paul Munsey of Wessex Mill in Oxfordshire told BBC News.
He has already increased the price of his flour by 12 percent.
Around 85 per cent of the wheat used in flour is grown in the UK, meaning imports have to make up the deficit.
In the event of a no-deal Brexit, wheat imports could face a tariff of £79 per tonne, the National Association of British and Irish Millers has said.
This would mean another 40 percent increase in wheat prices.
Mr Waugh said wheat prices had risen by £40 a tonne – an increase of more than 20 per cent. Millers operate on tight margins, so the brunt of the price increase is passed on to customers.
Agata Towpik, who runs Marcopolo Bakery in Wantage, is considering increasing prices for only the second time since she and her husband Peter started the business a decade ago.
“Flour is our main ingredient and all prices are going up at the moment, which will probably force us to raise our prices,” she told the BBC.