Due to rising temperatures and extreme summer heat, the UK food industry has faced significant obstacles in the last few years. With temperatures hitting 35°C and above, food production and supply chains have taken a hit. So, what can we do to change this?

The effects of rising temperatures

Back in 2018, central and northern Europe experienced an extreme heatwave which led to crop failures and loss of yield of up to 50%. This led to shortages of vegetables and some fruit, making supermarket prices rise due to the lack of supply.

We have seen a similar situation this year too, with heatwaves ripping across Europe, so the problem will not be stopping anytime soon. As a result, agricultural supply analyst, Cedric Porter, says that “Wholesale market prices for cherry tomatoes are twice that of a year ago and carrot prices are a third higher.”

Additionally, the ranges and distribution of weeds and pests are likely to increase with climate change, causing new problems for farmers’ crops which previously would have been unexposed to these species. This could lead to a decrease in supply of certain crops, again resulting in price increases in supermarkets.

Climate change is also resulting in rising sea temperatures, which can affect fishing stocks. Not only this, but warmer temperatures also force fish species that prefer colder temperatures to migrate to colder seas, meaning that the amount of seafood that can be caught in established fisheries is reduced.

A potential solution

Defra states the government is “building the UK’s resilience to overseas climate impacts on food”, including working with trade partners and other organisations to strengthen our food supply chain.

In the meantime, the University of Sheffield’s Institute for Sustainable Food has found ways to grow crops like beans, rice and wheat that use less water. It normally takes around 2,500 litres of water to produce a single kilogram of rice but in 2018 scientists bred a crop that uses 40% less water. This is a big breakthrough which can help the food industry to tackle the effects of climate change.

Looking to the future

With the extreme heatwaves seemingly here to stay, we can expect to begin seeing long-term effects on our food. With extended drought conditions, all cereal crops are at risk as well as food such as cocoa, olives and grapes.

As well as the lack of water, rising temperatures can also change where animals and insects choose to create their habitats. This means that insects such as bees or wasps may no longer pollinate in the areas they usually do, which would lead to lower crop yields. Then, if different species of bugs move into an area, it could also force farmers to use an increased number of pesticides on their crops.

Do you work in the food industry and have noticed the effects of rising temperatures on the industry? If so, we’d love to hear from you! And if you’re looking to rent a kitchen for food photography or recipe development, reach out to us today!