HIGH HEATING COSTS have knocked winter strawberries out of our shopping basket.
Keelings, the Irish fruit company, told the Sunday Times that "energy costs have resulted in a 30 per cent decresase in its raspberry production and are unsustainable for its strawberry crop". This means fewer Irish berries in our local supermarkets and it feels like smaller amounts of berries in the standard packages.
The berries seem smaller at Martin's Fruit and Veg in Clonmel too. We've become accustomed to the down-sizing.
Keelings produces 70% of Ireland's raspberries--my daughter's favourite fruit. It costs more than ever before to grow fruit in the winter. Brian Moran, Keeling's Chief Financial Officer, estimates it costs Keelings €4 million annually to heat its strawberry crop. At that rate, Keelings will need to be on Ireland's Horticultural Exceptional Payment Scheme. "Keelings uses about 15 acres of heated glasshouses to produce strawberries between September and November. In 2020 and 2021, Keelings spent €760,000 and €1.64 million respectively on the heating of its strawberry crop," according to facts revealed by Laura Roddy in The Sunday Times.
Between 2019 and 2021 gas made up 5% of all costs associated with fruit production but today is accounts for 20% of the bill. The absence of a heated glass crop of strawberries will result in a production loss of €6 million for Keelings.
We've been fortunate when growing our own strawberry crop and we have two cats who are well-trained to swat slugs off our plants. So we plan for another summer strawberry bonanza and just reorient our expectations for red berries in Special K cereal.
Laura Roddy -- "Energy crisis puts berries in a squeeze" on the front page of Business & Money in The Sunday Times, February 19, 2023.
[Bernie Goldbach shops local. The berries in the top shot were purchased in England.]