Drought should be a “wake-up call” for supermarkets - MP

Colin Clark MP
Colin Clark MP

The Scottish Conservative farming spokesman at Westminster has said the worst drought since 1976 should act as a “wake-up call” for supermarkets.

Colin Clark, MP for Gordon, said that retailers will have to reflect vastly lower yields due to the prolonged hot and dry weather this summer.

He also suggested that supermarkets will increase the range of what can be packed in order to keep prices down.

Mr Clark is a shareholder in a vegetable growing and packing company based near Inverness supplying carrots and potatoes to supermarkets.

Speaking during a visit to a farm in Moray, Mr Clark said: “This has been the worst drought since 1976 but it is a wake-up call for the supermarkets.

“I have been involved in supplying fresh produce to the supermarkets for almost 30 years. Farmers and growers have become so professional that supermarkets and perhaps customers no longer understand how fragile the supply chain is.

“Scotland will come into its own this year with availability of water and serious investment in irrigation.

“Retailers will have to reflect vastly lower yields due to the hot dry weather. The east coast and the southern half of England have disastrous yields, crops have wilted and failed, the same is true across Europe.

“Supermarkets will increase the range of what can be packed to keep prices down.

“With less intense farming plant disease pressure is less, traditional rotations and precision farming give Scottish vegetable growers serious advantages.

“Climate change predictions suggest the use of water will become critical and UK producers will have to be more efficient.”

Mr Clark also sounded a note of warning about the ongoing row over UK-wide frameworks in areas like agriculture post-Brexit.

He said: “The vast majority of output is supplied south of the border to national supermarkets who value the quality of Scottish produce.

“A fully integrated UK market is essential to Scottish farming. This year more than any other shows how important food security is and the opportunity for Scottish growers to displace imports.”