Europe’s vegetable farmers warn of shortages as energy crisis bites

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Emmanuel Lefebvre produces thousands of tonnes of endives on his farm in northern France annually, but this year he may abandon his crop because of the crippling energy costs required to freeze the harvested bulbs.

Across northern and western Europe, vegetable producers are contemplating halting their activities because of the financial hit from Europe’s energy crisis, further threatening food supplies.

Surging power and gas prices will impact crops grown through the winter in heated greenhouses such as tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers, and those which need to be placed in cold storage, such as apples, onions, and endives.

Endives are particularly energy hungry. After the bulbs are harvested in the autumn, they are stored in below-freezing temperatures and then later replanted in temperature-controlled containers to allow for year-round production.

“We really wonder if we’ll harvest what is in the fields this winter,” Lefebvre told Reuters at the site where his endives are packaged.

European farmers are warning of shortages. The anticipated hit to production and jump in prices means supermarkets may switch to sourcing more goods from warmer countries such as Morocco, Turkey, Tunisia and Egypt.

Surging gas prices are the biggest cost vegetable farmers cultivating inside greenhouses face, farmers said. Meanwhile, two French farmers renewing their electricity contracts for 2023 said they were being quoted prices more than 10 times those of 2021.

“In the coming weeks I will plan the season but I don’t know what to do,” said Benjamin Simonot-De Vos, who grows cucumbers, tomatoes, and strawberries south of Paris.—Reuters

 

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