New research reveals that the increase in extreme weather incidents around the world is directly related to the cost of living crisis and may continue next year.
A new report from the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit has revealed that extreme weather incidents are now responsible for one third of food price inflation in the UK. The report has determined that climate change alongside soaring energy and fertiliser prices, due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, has led to an average £605 in additional food costs in 2022 and 2023.
Despite a decrease in energy prices this year, the report highlights that more frequent climate events are increasing price volatility. In 2022, droughts damaged UK potato and onion harvests, meanwhile, heatwaves in the Mediterranean, India and South America have impacted food prices, including the price of staple goods, such as sugar, rice and tomatoes. Furthermore, two years of heatwaves and droughts in Spain have caused the price of olive oil to rise by 50% in two years.
Tom Lancaster, land analyst at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, said:
'Climate change is playing havoc with global food production, and this is inevitably feeding through to higher prices at the tills. Across 2022 and 2023, the climate emergency alone added the equivalent of six weekly shops to the average household food bill.'
The report, which was co-authored by researchers at the University of Bournemouth, University of Exeter and University of Sheffield, has further warned that prices could be set to increase further in 2024. Professor Wyn Morgan of Sheffield University, one of the report’s authors has said:
‘Given we expect climate impacts to get worse, it is likely that climate change will continue to fuel a cost of living crisis.’
Despite food inflation falling from its peak at almost 20% earlier this year to 10%, it remains at a record high. Recent weather events, such as Storm Babet, look likely to increase in frequency causing further instability to food availability and prices.
Meanwhile, there are concerns that recent storms with heavy rain and flooding could impact on Christmas dinners. Farmers are struggling to harvest potatoes and cauliflower and broccoli stocks have also been affected. Imports are being affected due to extreme wet weather in northern Europe and an exceptionally dry summer in the south.
Orla Delargy, head of public affairs at Sustain said:
"UK farmers are battling extreme weather events to put food on tables, and yet they end up with less than 1p of the profit of everyday items like apples and carrots. Far from scaling up our imports from other water and climate stressed countries, UK policy makers need to focus on securing a fair deal for farmers that will put more money in their businesses and give them the confidence to transition to more climate and nature friendly farming. More than 100,000 people have signed a petition started by Riverford calling for a debate on securing a fair deal for farmers and we hope parliamentarians will take the opportunity to do so."
To sign the petition calling for a Fair Deal for Farming, click here
To read the ECIU report on the impact of extreme weather and energy costs on food prices, click here
Published Monday 27 November 2023
Sustain: Sustain The alliance for better food and farming advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, enrich society and culture and promote equity.
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