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Farm which produces 150,000 cucumbers a day faces fight to survive amid 'triple threat'

The owner of one of the UK's biggest cucumber farms says the industry is facing a "triple threat" as he fights to keep his family business going.

Tony Montalbano, who runs Green Acre Salads in Roydon in Essex, says UK salad growers are facing a threat to their business from spiralling energy bills, supermarket prices which do not reflect growers' costs and a shortage in workers.

It was forced to stop production earlier this year because of the exorbitant cost of energy needed to grow the crop in the depths of winter.

"This is the only thing I know, [so] I'm trying to keep the family business going till the end," he told ITV News Anglia.

"It feels like a lonely game only looking after yourself."

Green Acre Salads grows baby cucumbers for retailers including Morrisons, Sainsbury's and Aldi.

Following on from a loss last year, Mr Montalbano said the company was only expecting to break even by the end of this year and he had already seen multiple producers leave the business altogether.

He believes the government should provide more support to the industry.

"If Britain can't have their own produce on their own doorstep and they think we could import it, it's not the answer," he said.

"I know because I'm in the industry and eventually what people don't realise is you're going to be paying for it.

"And who's going to be suffering? Us Brits who don't have their own produce. And who's going to thrive? The Europeans and whoever is exporting it."

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said it was investing to support the sector.

A spokesman added: "£2.4bn is being invested to support the sector every year to the end of this Parliament... as well as allocating 45,000 seasonal workers visas and wider government support on energy bills through the Energy Bills Relief Scheme."


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