Christmas dinner at risk amid warnings of broccoli and Cauliflower shortages and 'smaller sprouts'

27 November 2023, 10:01 | Updated: 27 November 2023, 10:04

Some Christmas dinner favourites could be impacted this year
Some Christmas dinner favourites could be impacted this year. Picture: Alamy
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Christmas at risk as Britain battles one of its toughest harvests after storms decimate vegetable crops, driving potato yields to record lows and produce shelves to empty right in time for the holidays. Shoppers face celebrating with smaller, pricier vegetables, as October rains flooded farms, delayed lifting and caused heavy losses.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

A dire harvest following October’s relentless rain has put the great British Christmas dinner in peril, experts warn. Record-low potato yields and empty shelves are expected as storms wreak havoc on the nation’s waterlogged farms.

The latest potato crop could sink to a mere 4.1 million tonnes – the lowest ever seen. With insufficient fresh spuds to meet demand, retailers may have no choice but to dip into cold storage reserves.

Shoppers also face missing trays where broccoli and cauliflower once sat.

While initially in doubt, supplies of festive essentials Brussels sprouts and parsnips are now anticipated to make a comeback in time for families’ 25 December tables.

But unprecedented October rainfall – twice the monthly average – has still taken its toll through flooded fields and rotting vegetables.

Read more: Will it be a White Christmas? Met Office gives verdict as snow set to fall 'in days'

Read more: Warnings over Christmas pigs in blankets shortage due to vet strikes as meat bosses call for politicians to step in

“The British potato harvest has been hit hard by heavy autumn rain and flooding, causing delayed lifting and large crop losses,” said Fred Searle, editor of Fresh Produce Journal, who also warned the shortage could persist for months beyond Christmas.

Lincolnshire mega-farmer Martin Tate was also downbeat. “There won’t be enough broccoli to supply the Christmas dinner demand,” said the manager of 18,000 acres.

“Cauliflower is still a problem, and you can expect to see empty trays over the next few weeks.”

Thankfully chips are unlikely to be affected, as most potatoes used for chipping come from Belgium.

Sprouts too should grace plates, earlier this month, T H Clements, one of the country's largest suppliers of Brussels sprouts with 11,000 acres in Lincolnshire and 1,000 in Cornwall, warned that sprouts would be smaller this year than average.

CEO Chris Gedney said: "Brussels sprouts are likely to be smaller this year as the larger ones tend to fall in the water and rot."

Love or hate them sprouts are likely to be smaller this year according to experts
Love or hate them sprouts are likely to be smaller this year according to experts. Picture: Alamy

However, as we reported earlier this month meat bosses have warned pigs in blankets and other festive favourites could be off the menu due to strikes by government vets and meat inspectors.

The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA), which represents the British meat processing industry, warned that treats such as pigs in blankets could be hard to come by due to the industrial action.

Government vets in Northern Ireland walked out for five days at the start of the month, sparking disruption for border controls and food production.

The BMPA warned the impact of a five-day stoppage could last for months.

So while the centrepiece turkey remains safe, a diminished array of trimmings may require some culinary improvisation this Christmas.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

The Prince Albert memorial has been 'considered offensive'

Prince Albert Memorial branded 'offensive' as it reflects 'Victorian view of the world'

Lord Falconer has said 'the time has come' for assisted dying reform

'The time has come': Lord Falconer calls for 'significant' assisted dying reform ahead of his new bill being introduced

An independent review recommended teachers and nurses get 5.5% pay rises

'There's also a cost to no deal': Treasury minister hints at above-inflation pay rise for public sector workers

Yvette Cooper vows to crackdown on illegal immigration

Beauty salons and car washes to be targeted in illegal immigration blitz as Home Secretary redeploys Rwanda scheme staff

Sarah Justine Packwood, 54, and her husband, Brett Clibbery, 70.

Mystery as Brit woman and husband attempting to cross Atlantic found dead in lifeboat one month after going missing

Exclusive
Five days of big names: LBC announces guest host week

Five days of big names: LBC announces guest host week

Rachel Reeves

Rachel Reeves vows 'big bang' for pensions as government launches review in bid to boost investment and savings

Amanda Abbington has claimed Giovanni Pernice was 'cruel and abusive'.

Strictly's Amanda Abbington breaks silence over 'cruel' Giovanni Pernice - as first female pro under fire

Donald Trump spoke at a rally for the first time since he was shot in the ear

Donald Trump says he ‘took a bullet for democracy’ at first rally since assassination attempt

A burnt out car in the Leeds suburb of Harehills, after vehicles were set on fire and a police car was overturned as residents were warned to stay home following an outbreak of disorder on Thursday evening. Picture date: Friday July 19, 2024.

Man charged with arson after bus set on fire in Leeds riots over children allegedly removed from local family

Craig Revel Horwood has said the recent allegations have come as a 'shock' to him

Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood breaks silence after 'shock' of dancing show's abuse allegations

A series of Israeli strikes have been launched against the Houthi-controlled port city of Hodeidah in Yemen

Israel launches series of air strikes on Houthi-controlled city in Yemen day after group claim deadly attack on Tel Aviv

Jay Slater and his mum, Debbie Duncan

Jay Slater's GoFundMe page hits £70k after teen's mum appeals for funeral donations

Holidaymakers have been left stranded during global IT outage

'We're not being given any information': Furious holidaymaker stranded in Rhodes tells of travel hell after IT outage

A burnt out car in the Leeds suburb of Harehills, after vehicles were set on fire and a police car was overturned as residents were warned to stay home following an outbreak of disorder on Thursday evening. Picture date: Friday July 19, 2024.

Further unrest in Leeds as hundreds take to streets to 'demand return of children' allegedly removed from local family

NHS England has warned of "continued disruption" to GP services into next week.

NHS warns of GP disruption after global IT outage as trains, planes and roads remain in chaos leaving Brits stranded