"It's more than hot air Boris, it’s our future and the nation’s food supply" says FPC's Nigel Jenney

Nigel Jenney, the chief executive of the UK’s fresh produce consortium (FPC) has spoken on BBC’s Farming Today about the impact of gas prices on glasshouse growers within the industry.


Read the interview:


Charlotte Smith (BBC)

“Some farmers are now reconsidering their growing plants as gas is used to heat class houses. Nigel Jenney is the chief executive of the Fresh Produce Consortium (FPC), which represents fruit, veg and plant growers and joins us now to discuss.”


Nigel Jenney (FPC)

“Growth is a major part of the total cost of production. So it has a major impact on the future selling prices growers would require to, at least, break even.


“In terms of the next season you're nurturing young growing plants in the coldest part of this season, where there is no income for the growers, because they have no crop to sell at that time. And I think growers currently are reflecting on whether that is going to be a commercially sensible decision to actually commit to growing those crops, or sadly, not.”


Charlotte Smith (BBC)

“Simply because to get them to grow they'll need to heat those greenhouses during the winter and that's now going to cost so much more than they'd expected?”


Nigel Jenney (FPC)

“It’s going to cost much more. And will the industry's customers be willing to offer, let's say, different cost prices and ultimately where we, as consumers, choose to support growers and pay those substantial increases in those costs as well, because it simply cannot be absorbed by the supply chain.


“The magnitude of change of cost is so high. We're talking about, for larger glasshouse complexes using gas, tens of thousands of pounds a day.”


Charlotte Smith (BBC)

“At what point is it actually just cheaper to import?”


Nigel Jenney (FPC)

“Well, I think my response for that would be is that in the changing world that we're living in, I think the glasshouse sector has a huge opportunity for growth in the UK. And I think, all of a sudden, we find ourselves rather than contemplating considerable expansion, reflecting about whether it's sustainable, which I think is a crying shame.”


Charlotte Smith (BBC)

“Doesn't the industry though need to look at how it heats these glass houses and look at more sustainable ways of doing it?”


Nigel Jenney (FPC)

“Absolutely! And I think what you have is an industry in transition.


“You have alternative heat sources but these glasshouse complexes are substantial investments. Some of these structures were built a few years ago now and their energy supply is gas. Therefore, these particular businesses are now at a huge disadvantage.”


Charlotte Smith (BBC)

“And, presumably, this will concentrate minds and people will be looking very hard at other ways of heating, and indeed, questioning whether in fact, this is the best way of growing food here?”


Nigel Jenney (FPC)

“Businesses are looking continuously about alternative and improved ways of growing crops to be ever more efficient, but at the same time, be sustainable.


“Ultimately, we all enjoy great quality food and, as an industry, that's what we want to offer. But there is a real cost of doing so.”


Ongoing support for the industry


FPC have risen to bolster the industry by developing two innovative new events that embrace the future of our food supply chains through agritech innovation, whilst showcasing the many exciting career opportunities presented within.

FPC Future and FPC Careers will both be held on 4 November 2021 at Lincolnshire Showground. The events will showcase all that is new right now and also what the future promises. Visitors will be able see how new technologies can help them become more efficient, increase productivity and, ultimately, help their workforce.


To enquire about becoming an exhibitor or headline sponsor click here.


“Together we can overcome the many industry challenges faced, but we need the government to wake up and take notice,” says Jenney.


“Growers, email our editor here and let us know what you think!”