UK groceries bill to soar £800 if key pesticides are banned

The average UK family shopping bill is set to soar by £786 if pesticides are banned from British farms.

A new report, commissioned by the Crop Protection Association and written by independent agronomist Séan Rickard, highlights the impact removing plant protection products would have on family shopping bills.

It comes amid heightening scrutiny over plant protection with several high-profile pesticides struck over in recent years.

The EU voted to ban neonicotinoids in 2018. Glyphosate is also set to come under review in December 2019 when the process to renew its EU approval begins.

The report published this week estimates the average UK family’s grocery bill could rise by more than £786 a year, without the use of plant protection products.

The cost of fresh fruit and vegetables would rise by more than £4 a week or an extra £226 a year, making it more costly to get your five-a-day.

The yearly price hike will impact family favourites: On average families with two children will have to pay almost £140 more each year for cereal-based products such as bread and breakfast cereals and a further £60 for fresh meats.

The cost of roast dinner, with chicken, greens and fresh potatoes would be up by £1.47 a week. Adding a soft drink and a cake for dessert would mean another £1.94 a week, totalling an extra £177 a year.

Eating and drinking outside the home would rise by £92 a year. The biggest cost increase will be on takeaways and snacks which would cost an extra £24 a year.

The average annual household bill for alcohol and eating out is also projected to rise by some £92.

The average weekly grocery bill for a family of four, would rise by more than £15 a week – £786 a year – without plant protection products, a new report, written by a senior agricultural economist, suggests.

Séan Rickard, a former chief economist for the National Farmers’ Union, and author of the report, found that eating healthily could become unaffordable for some families if farmers do not have access to every tool in the box to protect crops.

Plant protection products (PPPs), also known as pesticides, prevent the loss of crop yields by guarding them against more than 10,000 species of pests, 30,000 species of weeds and countless diseases.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates that on average between 26% and 40% of crop yields are lost to weeds, pests and diseases.

Without PPPs, they estimate the losses could double. If farmers were denied access to these products there would be a significant drop in global food production, a subsequent hike in food prices and the quality we have come to expect in the crops that underpin our food system would decline markedly.

Independent economist Séan Rickard said: “The removal of plant protection products would present a severe challenge to already hard-pressed households, exacerbate income inequalities and make healthy eating more expensive.

“Some of the largest increases in prices would be for vegetables and fruit.”

Crop Protection Association chief executive Sarah Mukherjee said: “The report shows that plant protection products are essential in maintaining the supply of affordable food for families across the UK.

Poorer households with children spend a much higher proportion of their weekly expenditure on food, meaning that their budgets will be squeezed even further if PPPs are threatened.

“UK farmers need every tool in the box, including pesticides, if they are to provide high quality, safe, affordable food.”