Recently the news has been full of talk of a “Cabbage Crisis”, where the price of salad vegetables has doubled or tripled due to poor growing conditions in Spain. Whilst Cabbage supply is also affected, it is by no means the only vegetable affected (just the catchiest)! Others include: aubergines, broccoli, fresh salad, herbs, courgettes, and tomatoes.
To our mind this is one of the most obvious visualisations of what is actually a little thought about, but very fragile, supply chain for leafy greens in the U.K.
The fact that poor farming conditions and flooding in Murcia, Spain, necessitates price rises and vegetables to be flown in from Egypt, Jordan, and the USA, demonstrates that our supply chain is not resilient. With climate change set to increase the prevalence of this kind of event, this is not acceptable.
It's worth recognising that the problem is exacerbated by the fact that we demand that our supermarkets supply out-of-season vegetables. Were this summer, you would likely have more supply from Northern European farmers that could take up the slack.
For LettUs Grow™ and the wider urban farming industry, this just focuses the mind on our core unique selling point, and raises public awareness. There is fundamentally no better way to provide food resilience, with year round supply of tasty produce, than growing in a controlled indoor environment using hydroponics, aquaponics, or LettUs Grow™ aeroponic technology! Further food price rises are also realistic, and over the long term may be here to stay (food prices previously were at a historic low as a share of income), but fundamentally make the cost of hydroponic farmed salad very competitive.
We’ll be writing more blogs over the next few months about ourselves and larger urban farming startups that are trying to drive forward the UK's nascent urban farming industry. We will also reflect on some of the environmental and economic problems faced. We hope you enjoy it!