CHRISTMAS dinners could be in jeopardy this year due to a shortage of festive staples.

Storms are causing havoc for farmers who are struggling with one of the toughest harvests on record.

However, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has downplayed these fears and said that retailers have enough supply for the festivities

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However, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has downplayed these fears and said that retailers have enough supply for the festivities

The UK’s recent potato crop is expected to hit a record low of 4.1m tonnes with retailers forced to supplement supplies from cold storage, according to Fresh Product Journal.

Shoppers might also expect empty shelves after the harvests of broccoli and cauliflower were badly affected.

Supplies of festive favourites like sprouts and parsnips have also suffered but are still expected to recover enough to reach Christmas plates.

Unprecedented levels of rainfall, almost double the average for October, including Storms Agnes, Babet and Ciarán have meant waterlogged farms have struggled to produce enough veg for Christmas.

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Lincolnshire grower, Martin Tate, who manages 18,000 acres in the county, said: “There won’t be enough broccoli to supply the Christmas dinner demand.

“There is a nationwide shortage of broccoli, in fact, there’s a European-wide shortage.

“Cauliflower is still a problem, and you can expect to see empty trays over the next few weeks but may return to normal before Christmas. After some initial issues brussels sprouts supplies look like they will be okay.”

However, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has downplayed these fears and said that retailers have enough supply for the festivities.

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Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the BRC, said: “High rainfall has created challenging conditions for farmers in the UK, however, food retailers are adept at managing disruption and have all the vegetables, potatoes and other festive foods households need for a great Christmas.”

It comes after reports last month suggested that duck and other game birds could be off the menu this Christmas.

The seasonal favourites are becoming increasingly expensive to process as suppliers struggle to find skilled staff.

About 55 million pheasants and partridges, plus 2.6 million mallard ducks are reared each year in captivity before being released into the wild.

They are then shot for sport before being processed for food.

However, getting them ready for sale is becoming harder because of the lack of skilled pluckers in rural areas.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has commissioned a review of labour shortages in the food supply chain.

Last Christmas, 600,000 of the 1.3million free-range birds available had been lost to bird flu, according to the British Poultry Council.

Retailers were given permission by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to kill birds earlier than usual and then thaw them out in the run-up to Christmas.

It means that these birds were being sold as “defrosted”, rather than fresh, according to the British Retail Consortium.

There were no geese for shoppers last year after the entire flock had been lost.

This post first appeared on thesun.co.uk

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