Supermarket chain accepts smaller vegetables in bid to help flood hit farmers
A supermarket chain is temporarily accepting some smaller-than-usual vegetables from flood-hit farmers.
One grower reported that sprouts were growing underwater due to flooding, and that it was a race against the clock to pull vegetables from the ground before they rotted.
A relaxation on size requirements by Tesco on sprouts, cauliflowers, cabbages and leeks, is helping to keep British vegetables on the shelves rather than imports, and to reduce the risk of shortages.
The supermarket said farmers will still supply them with more of their crop, and avoid having to sell at lower prices on the open market.
Heavy rainfall and subsequent flooding has affected growers around the country, including in Lincolnshire, East Anglia, Cornwall and Scotland.
One of the biggest growers of winter vegetables, TH Clements, based near Boston in Lincolnshire, reported that there have only had a handful of dry days since October which has made harvesting difficult.
TH Clements commercial director John Moulding said: “This is the worst flooding we have had this century and we have lost about 20% of our total winter crops including sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower and leeks.
“It’s been a very tough time for us for more than three months both physically and financially in having to pull the vegetables out of the muddy fields.
“We have literally had to race against the clock to get the vegetables pulled out of the ground to stop them from rotting.
“The flexibility that Tesco has given us has allowed us to maximise the amount of product we can get on their shelves therefore guaranteeing greater availability for shoppers.”
Sprouts were a particular problem due to their size and some were growing underwater due to the flooding.
In order to dry the wet sprouts Tesco worked with growers to develop a new drying method, using cool air blowers to blow the water off them in their storage pallets.
Tom Mackintosh, Tesco Fresh Produce and Horticulture Director, said: “By accepting slightly smaller sprouts, cauliflower, cabbages and leeks, we can support the fresh produce industry while ensuring that customers are able to continue to buy British winter vegetables.
“We’re pleased to be able to provide support to our growers, farmers and suppliers who are facing really challenging harvesting conditions.”
Published: by Radio NewsHub