Cost of food rises as cold snap bites

Cold breeze on food prices.   Photo: Rohith S. Katbamna

Cold breeze on food prices. Photo: Rohith S. Katbamna

Extreme weather conditions are affecting the cost of food for people in east and south-east London.

Fresh food prices have increased due to shortages in supplies. The perishable nature of some fruits and vegetables means food markets do not have enough supplies in storage. As most of the fruits and vegetables in the UK are mostly imported in winter, it has made it difficult for local markets to meet demand.

Hardest hit among food items are peppers and tomatoes. The price of peppers has increased from £13 to £19 per 5kg, while tomato prices have risen by 1-2 pounds per kg at east London markets. According to a local fruit and vegetable vendor in Lewisham, prices will continue to rise if the cold snap continues over the next few weeks.

The snowy and icy weather conditions which have been affecting the whole country since before Christmas have also led to increased workplace absenteeism because of difficult travel conditions.

Many schools were closed on Wednesday this week forcing parents all over London to stay home. One concerned parent in East Croydon said: “My work has greatly suffered as I am forced to stay home to take care of my daughter.”

The economic loss due to absenteeism could be around £230 million, according to the Forum of Private Business. The FPB used a number of factors in their calculation, ranging from the daily Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figure, expected vehicle breakdown levels, average salaries and official data regarding the predicted fall in retail sales.

Stephen Nelson, principal director of the South East London Chamber of Commerce, said: “As Lewisham is dominated by small and medium enterprises, businesses such as restaurants and pubs are the most likely to be affected due to the bad weather.” Last year, the snowy weather took its toll in the middle of the recession, however it is difficult to predict the cost of the current economic loss to south east London.

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