UK ‘faces chips and roast potatoes shortage’ after floods in Europe ruin crops

Harvesting potatoes on field, farm workers picking and transporting to the warehouse
The UK could suffer a shortage of chips and roast potatoes after floods. (Getty)

The UK could suffer a shortage of chips and roast potatoes after floods in Europe ruined crops, according to a new report.

This summer, the potato industry suffered from unprecedented weather and as a result will be unable to keep up with demand for the rest of 2021, hospitality buying firm Lynx Purchasing has said.

It added the variety of potatoes used in frozen chips and roast potatoes had been hit particularly hard, hampering growers and processors.

Hundreds of people died after floods swept through northwest Europe following heavy rainfall last month, devastating communities in Germany, Belgium and Netherlands.

ERFTSTADT, GERMANY - JULY 17: Search and rescue teams are seen on a flooded and damaged part of the highway (A1) on July 17, 2021 in Erftstadt, Germany. The death toll in western Europe rose to 150 after record rainfall this week caused rivers to burst their banks, resulting in widespread devastation in the region. Rescue efforts continue with hundreds still unaccounted for, as the water recedes and the clean-up begins. (Photo by Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images)
A photo of the devastation caused by the flooding in Erftstadt, Germany. (AP)

The flooding and a combination of the COVID pandemic, Brexit, labour shortages, increased fuel and distribution costs, created a “perfect storm” that led to the potato problems, the report added.

Lynx Purchasing managing director Rachel Dobson said: “Even for anyone who’s worked in purchasing for some time, this is as significant and widespread a challenge as we’ve seen.

“The same labour shortages hospitality is seeing on the front line stretch back through the supply chain via warehousing and distribution to picking and packing.

"Globally, recovery from Covid is really only as fast as the slowest vaccine rollout. In regions such as the far east, where a great deal of poultry and seafood is processed, they are still facing real challenges.”

The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) released a report this week saying it expected a smaller yield of potato crops.

UK farms may still be able to make up the potato shortfall but will need to increase production.

But hospitality companies have been told to be prepared to change menus if potato products are not available.

Pepinster, Belgium - July 29 : Aftermath of the historic floods in the valley of the Vesdre pictured on July 29, 2021 in Pepinster, Belgium, 29/07/2021 ( Photo by Philip Reynaers / Photonews via Getty Images)
The aftermath of the historic floods in Pepinster, Belgium. (Getty)

Around 15,000 police, soldiers and emergency service workers were deployed in Germany to help with the search and rescue during the floods.

The unprecedented rainfall was blamed on global climate change by both weather experts and politicians

Professor Hannah Cloke OBE, Professor of Hydrology at the University of Reading, said: "These kind of high-energy, sudden summer torrents of rain are exactly what we expect in our rapidly heating climate.

"The fact that other parts of the northern hemisphere are currently suffering record-breaking heatwaves and fires should serve as a reminder of just much more dangerous our weather could become in an ever-warmer world."

Watch: World needs to make changes after Europe floods