Wet weather may push up bread and biscuit prices

Months of wet weather in the UK could affect this year’s wheat harvest and lead to higher prices for bread, beer and biscuits, acording to a new analysis.

The Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) estimates that UK production of wheat, barley, oats and oilseed rape may be down by 4 million tonnes compared to 2023, a reduction of 17.5%.

Set against the 2015-2023 average, this represents a decrease of over a fifth (21.2%).

“This washout winter is playing havoc with farmers’ fields leading to soils so waterlogged they cannot be planted or too wet for tractors to apply fertilisers,” explained Tom Lancaster, land analyst at ECIU.

Milling wheat, used to make bread, could be hit particularly hard as it needs to meet higher quality requirements that are more difficult for farmers to achieve with the wet weather. UK flour millers last week estimated that the milling wheat harvest could be down by as much as 40%.

Food producers may be forced to make up the shortfall through higher imports, potentially increasing costs.

UK millers normally source around 80% of their wheat from British farms, but that figure that is likely to be well down after this year’s harvest. 

Associated British Foods (ABF), which owns brands including Kingsmill, Allinson’s, Ryvita, Jordans and Dorset Cereals, warned last week of possible price rises due to “very small” grain harvests in the UK.