UK family shopping costs to rise if plant protection products removed from farms

Posted: 18 July 2019 | | No comments yet

The average UK family shopping bill is set to soar by £786 if plant protection products are removed from farms.

Shopping bill

The average weekly grocery bill for a family of four, would rise by more than £15 per week – £786 per year – without plant protection products, a new report written by a senior agricultural economist suggests.

Séan Rickard, a former chief economist for the National Farmers Union and report author, found that eating healthily could become unaffordable for some families if farmers do not have access to every tool in the box to protect crops.

Plant protection products (PPPs), also known as pesticides, prevent the loss of crop yields by guarding them from more than 10,000 species of pests, 30,000 species of weeds and countless diseases. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimate that on average 26-40% of crop yields are lost to weeds, pests and diseases. Without PPPs, they estimate the losses could double. If farmers were denied access to these products there would be a significant drop in global food production, a subsequent hike in food prices and the quality we have come to expect in the crops that underpin our food system would decline markedly.

According to the report – 

  • The cost of fresh fruit and vegetables would rise by more than £4 per week, an extra £226 per year, and the average household would have to find an extra £32 per year for milk, cheese and eggs.
  • Packed lunches would see a big price rise. The price of bread would increase by 67 pence per week, an extra £35 per year. Favourite sandwich fillings such as bacon and ham would rise by 16 pence per week, an extra £8 per year and cheese by 14 pence per week, an extra £7 per year.
  • The cost of roast dinner, with chicken, greens and fresh potatoes would be up by £1.47 per week. Adding a soft drink and a cake for dessert would mean another £1.94 per week, totalling an extra £177 per year.

Eating and drinking outside the home would rise by £92 per year. The biggest cost increase will be on takeaways and snacks which would cost an extra £24 per year.

Séan Rickard, independent economist, said: “The removal of plant protection products would present a severe challenge to already hard-pressed households, exacerbate income inequalities and make healthy eating more expensive. Some of the largest increases in prices would be for vegetables and fruit.”   

“The report shows that plant protection products are essential in maintaining the supply of affordable food for families across the UK. Poorer households with children spend a much higher proportion of their weekly expenditure on food, meaning that their budgets will be squeezed even further if PPPs are threatened. UK farmers need every tool in the box, including pesticides, if they are to provide high quality, safe, affordable food,” added Crop Protection Association, CEO, Sarah Mukherjee.