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Farmers 'buried under tsunami of cabbages' as vegetables grow too quickly in warm Autumn

Heads of cabbage for sale at a farm stand near Churchtown, Lancaster County, PA.
Some farmers are struggling to sell all of their cabbages. (Richard T. Nowitz via Getty Images)

Farmers have been left with a 'tsunami' of cabbages, leeks and cauliflowers after an unseasonably warm Autumn and lower than expected demand.

The head of Riverford, an organic food delivery company, said orders for vegetable boxes were 20% lower than predicted.

Guy Singh-Watson said the sales, combined with the mild autumn, means farmers are "buried under a tsunami of the most perfect, bountiful Savoy cabbages, cauliflowers, kale, and leeks, with not enough cooks to eat them."

Riverford bought up seeds for their winter vegetable boxes during lockdown, and had predicted cooking habits would stay the same after restrictions lifted.

However this was not the case, as people have returned to pre-COVID trends of less planning, more eating out and more time away from home.

In addition, unusually mild Autumn weather has caused many veg to grow extra large.

“Now it’s so mild, everything is just booming. Everything is coming at the same time. It’s across the entire range, so caulis, green and red cabbage, leeks and kale,” Riverford's Steve Monk told the company's publication, Wicked Leeks.

“The quality is really good, it’s just the sheer volume.”

The glut in some British grown veg is likely to have an impact on prices. (Getty)
The glut in some British grown veg is likely to have an impact on prices. (Getty) (Sarah Mason via Getty Images)

Read more: Cost of living crisis: One in four young people forced to borrow money to buy food

Singh-Watson said Riverford would take a loss on due to the glut of veg they now have.

The unseasonal warm autumn may have benefitted some farmers but it is creating issues for many natural habitats.

The Woodland Trust has warned the warm weather confused a lot of wildlife, with butterflies delaying hibernation, trees budding for a second time and others not holding onto their leaves for longer.

Many animals will welcome the longer foraging time before they bed down for winter, but if it becomes the norm it could throw natural cycles out of sync.

Read more: The everyday value food items that are actually falling in price

Leeks are another vegetable that has benefitted from the mild autumn. (Getty)
Leeks are another vegetable that has benefitted from the mild autumn. (Getty) (mikroman6 via Getty Images)

Trees, for example, often rely on the cold weather to stall and kill pests and diseases, something that could become less effective with shorter winters.

The boom in cabbages may decrease their cost, but it will be one of the few foods to see their prices fall.

Food inflation in the UK is currently above 10% with many staples like butter, bread and lamb seeing their prices soar.

Some analysts have predicted food inflation could carry on rising well into 2023 and hit almost 20%.

The prediction was made by the Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD), with its chief economist saying it was a "fairly daunting prospect."