Fri, 08 Dec 2023

PARIS, France: Throughout northern and western Europe, vegetable producers are considering not planting crops due to the financial effects of Europe's energy crisis, which are threatening food supplies.

Crops grown throughout the winter in heated greenhouses, such as tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers, will be affected by surging power and gas prices, as well as those placed in cold storage, such as apples and onions.

Endives are particularly energy hungry, as their bulbs must be stored in below-freezing temperatures and later replanted in temperature-controlled containers.

In Northern France, Emmanuel Lefebvre produces thousands of tons of endives on his farm, but this year, he said he might abandon the crop because of energy costs.

In an interview with Reuters, Lefebvre said, "We really wonder if we'll harvest what is in the fields this winter."

European farmers are warning of shortages, and the expected production decline and price hikes could mean that supermarkets may switch to sourcing more goods from warmer countries, such as Morocco, Turkey, Tunisia and Egypt.

Surging gas prices are the main costs facing vegetable farmers who cultivate crops in greenhouses, but they have also been affected by rising costs of fertilizers, packaging and transport.

Johannes Gross, deputy sales manager at the German cooperative Reichenau-Gemse, said, "We face an overall increased production cost of around 30 percent," as quoted by Reuters.

"Some colleagues are thinking about leaving their greenhouses empty to keep the costs as low as possible. Nobody knows what will happen next year," he added.

According to the Greenhouse industry group Glastuinbouw Nederland, up to 40 percent of its 3,000 members are suffering financially.

Even in sunny countries, such as Spain and Portugal, fruit and vegetable farmers are facing a 25 percent increase in fertilizer costs.

Jack Ward, chief executive of the British Growers Association, said the production of fruit and vegetables would inevitably shift to places with warmer climates.

"We will move production further and further south, down through Spain and into Morocco and bits of Africa," he said, according to Reuters.

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