By Max Clarke

While sunny weather may be behind the recent surge in sales enjoyed by UK retailers, this year’s prolonged dry spells are wreaking a costly toll in another crucial sector: agriculture.

The National Farmers’ Union reports a 14% drop in wheat yields as a result of one of the driest springs on record, with similar losses affecting other crops both in the UK and Europe.

“I believe this year’s forecast yield decrease was largely due to poor growing conditions since winter,” said NFU combinable crops chairman, Ian Backhouse. “With the East of England experiencing its lowest rainfall for the first half of the year in over 100 years, farmers are clearly concerned about the impact on the ground of this abnormally dry spring.”

The inevitable outcome of this reduced supply will be food inflation. Soaring energy costs and crop failures have already hiked up the price of food on UK shelves, with fruit rising by 4.7% between April and May of this year alone, helping to push the consumer prices index of inflation to 4.5%.

Food inflation is already affecting the nation’s poorest residents, who have seen a 10% increase in the price of essential items. "The rising costs of food and fuel are really hitting many workers who already face massive job cuts, pay freezes and rising pension costs. This is piling huge pressure on their finances,” explains Unite union chief, Len McCluskey.

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