Restaurant prices 'set to rise' after bad weather hits vegetable harvest

Extreme weather has devastated vegetable crops in Spain


Consumers will be confronted with rising restaurant prices and an alarming leap in the cost of veggie burgers after extreme weather ravaged crops across Europe.

Alan Clarke, head of European Fixed Income Strategy at Scotiabank, said the drought and freak snow storms that hammered the Mediterranean vegetable harvest could bump up processed food prices, including veggie burgers.

He said the cost of eating out is also likely to rise, as restaurants grapple with sharply higher vegetable costs and a jump in import prices caused by the Brexit-hit pound.

"Extreme weather has devastated vegetable crops in Spain, leading to shortages of a number of vegetables in the UK.

"Prices of veggie burgers (or other such processed food products) could rise after a lag given that the ingredients that go into these have risen," he added.

"More generally, restaurant prices face upside risks, especially because spring/summer menus are due for imminent update.

"These already had good reason to rise due to the weaker pound raising import costs."

Restaurants and shops have been accused of sparking a lettuce ration in supermarkets by bulk-buying the salad favourite amid a European vegetable shortage.

Supermarkets have limited the number of lettuces each customer can purchase in stores and iceberg, sweet gem and romaine varieties have been taken off sale completely by some online stores.

An extreme mix of drought followed by flooding and freezing conditions has severely affected growers in southern Spain, while poor conditions have also hit farmers in Italy, Greece and Turkey.

Mr Clarke said other vegetables such as broccoli, tomatoes, salad peppers and aubergines could also be hit by shortages in the coming weeks.

It comes as consumers face a squeeze at the supermarket checkouts from rising inflation, which climbed to a two-and-a-half year high in December at 1.6%.

Overall food prices rose by 0.8% between November and December, having been flat a year earlier.