Cucumbers grown in the United Kingdom are being thrown away in large quantities because of the abundance of imported produce.
According to Lea Valley Growers Association secretary Lee Stiles, the wholesale price of cucumbers has dropped from a historical high of over 40p per cucumber to less than half that amount, at 16p. The current average price is also lower than the cost of production, which is now around 30p per cucumber and "not even worth the transport cost," claimed Stiles.
Produce oversupply was caused by what Stiles called a "perfect storm" of circumstances, including the fact that major European producers like the United Kingdom and the Netherlands delayed planting due to high petrol prices and that Spain experienced poor weather at the same time.
"This is the extreme [opposite] of the salad shortages which happened in February and March when we got no produce because the price was too high," he said.
According to Stiles, in a typical year, the market would be inundated for a day or two due to an overstock, but this year, the situation has been deteriorating for weeks and is expected to persist, hurting other salad lines throughout the year.
It's becoming worse, he claimed, since the government has given up on regulating the market and left it up to the merchants, even though 'buy British' campaigns in supermarkets have resulted in barely 10% of lines in the salad aisles being British.
He speculated that price matching made matters worse because "it just devalues all the produce and reduces the margin for farmers, which means there is no money to invest."
Since "it seems like madness" that the UK imports cheap subsidised food from overseas while not supporting home-grown products, Stiles has urged the government to institute protection for British producers.