Stricken UK winter vegetable growers hit by recent storms and flooding have been given a helping hand by Tesco.
The supermarket is temporarily accepting slightly smaller sprouts, cauliflowers, cabbages and leeks to help UK farmers struggling with the devastating weather conditions that have affected their livelihoods.
As a result of the rainfall and poor growing conditions these winter vegetables may be slightly smaller than usual but will still have the same great taste.
Farmers will still supply Tesco with more of their crop and avoid having to sell at lower prices on the open market.
The move will also help Tesco keep British produce on shelves for customers and reduce the risk of shortages.
The heavy rainfall and subsequent flooding starting in the late autumn and continued through Christmas and into the New Year.
The floods have mainly affected growers in Lincolnshire, East Anglia, Cornwall and Scotland.
Tom Mackintosh, Tesco Fresh Produce & Horticulture Director said:“By accepting slightly smaller sprouts, cauliflower, cabbages and leeks, we can support the fresh produce industry while ensuring that customers are able to continue to buy British winter vegetables.
“We’re pleased to be able to provide support to our growers, farmers and suppliers who are facing really challenging harvesting conditions.”
Tesco’s technical team worked closely with suppliers to ensure that Christmas vegetables would not be in short supply.
Sprouts were a particular problem due to their size and some were growing underwater due to the flooding.
In order to dry the wet sprouts Tesco worked with growers to develop a new innovative drying method, using cool air blowers to literally blow the water off them in their storage pallets.
East Midlands, and Lincolnshire in particular, have been particularly hard hit since the storms and flooding started in October.
One of the area’s biggest growers of winter vegetables, TH Clements, said that they have only had a handful of dry days since October which has made harvesting extremely difficult.
TH Clements Commercial Director John Moulding said:“This is the worst flooding we have had this century and we have lost about 20 per cent of our total winter crops including sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower and leaks.
“It’s been a very tough time for us for more than three months both physically and financially in having to pull the vegetables out of the muddy fields.
“We have literally had to race against the clock to get the vegetables pulled out of the ground to stop them from rotting.
“The flexibility that Tesco has given us has allowed us to maximise the amount of product we can get on their shelves therefore guaranteeing greater availability for shoppers.”