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Horticultural input price inflation continues in 2023

Horticultural input price inflation continues in 2023

In recent years, input price inflation in the horticulture sector in Ireland has taken a firm hold. It has its roots in Brexit, the Covid pandemic, and more recently the illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine.

  • Teagasc has taken a snapshot of input prices in March 2023 and compared to March 2022.  All sub sectors of horticulture report significant input price inflation across most inputs except energy. Energy is still at least 100% more expensive than in 2021.
  • While primary horticulture producers, for the most part, have received some output price increases in 2022, the continuing input price inflation means that achieving a margin over costs for many horticultural enterprises continues to be challenging. 
  • In recent years, a significant number of primary producers in the vegetable sector and other sectors have ceased trading and early indications for 2023 season show this continuing.  Teagasc estimates that the area of field vegetable production will be down by 7% in 2023, based on direct engagement with growers. 
  • The importance of underpinning Irish horticulture production has never been more in focus following recent shortages of certain product lines and supply chain issues.
  • A market response will be required to ensure the viability of an industry that puts local, nutritious, fresh, top quality produce, on the supermarket shelf.

12 Month Input Price Inflation Infographic

12 Month Input Price Inflation Infographic:
Estimated % input price inflation 12 months to March 2023; Protected crops 2.8%, Mushrooms 10.2%, Nursery stock 10.8%, Soft fruit 7.7%, Top fruit 9.7%, Vegetables 7.9%
Factors driving rising costs; labour, packaging, energy, fertiliser, growing media/casing, transport

Valued at €477 million at farm gate, horticulture is the fourth largest sector after dairy, beef and pigs in terms of gross agricultural commodity output value in Ireland. The horticulture sector is diverse and covers plant and food horticulture.  Horticulture food includes mushrooms, potatoes, field vegetables, soft fruit, protected crops and outdoor fruit.  Amenity horticulture includes nursery stock, protected crops, cut foliage, and outdoor flowers and bulbs. 

Teagasc Horticulture Development Department recently assessed horticulture input price inflation across a myriad of inputs.  The key objective of this report, as with previous reports is to surface up-to-date facts about specific inputs price increases now compared to March 2022.  This time sensitive exercise is important to assess the increases in costs of production for this season, as prices negotiated now for product delivered in 2023 will need to reflect these increases. Across all enterprises, there has been significant increases in input prices, specifically labour, packaging materials, fertilizer, and a range of other inputs that are key components of production.

Dermot Callaghan, Head of Teagasc Horticulture Development Department said, “While Brexit, Covid-19 and the continuing Ukrainian crisis have pushed input prices much higher in recent years, input price inflation continues in 2023.  When we set this upward input price trend against the fifteen-year downward trend in Fruit and Vegetable retail prices as depicted in the report, it is clear to see how primary producers could be squeezed.  A response from the market is required, if the viability of the industry is to be maintained, and the flow of local, nutritious, fresh, top quality produce on to the supermarket shelves is to continue”.

The complete report can be downloaded at https://www.teagasc.ie/publications/2023/horticulture-crop-input-price-inflation-2023.php