'Somebody has to foot the bill' - Inflation forces greengrocer to up prices

Darren Pegrum, manager at CC Wells, based in Dereham

Darren Pegrum, manager at CC Wells, based in Dereham - Credit: CC Wells

One of the Norfolk's best-known greengrocers says it has been left with no choice but to up its prices to combat the soaring rate of inflation. 

Darren Pegrum, manager at CC Wells, said the business had been forced to make a host of adjustments in response to increasing costs. 

CC Wells' driver and buyer travel to Covent Garden Market in London to source fresh stock

CC Wells' driver and buyer travel to Covent Garden Market in London to source fresh stock - Credit: CC Wells

Inflation was driven up to 5.4pc in the 12 months up to December 2020 - its highest level since 1992, when it stood at 7.1pc. 

That means the cost of living for the average consumer is skyrocketing, and is expected to worsen when energy bills rise in the spring. 

And Dereham-based CC Wells, who source fresh stock from Covent Garden Market in London every night, has lifted the lid on the challenges it is facing.

"For us, the cost of a pallet of boxes in London last year was €145; this year, that is up to €243," said Mr Pegrum. 

CC Wells, based in Dereham, has seen the cost of many items increase

CC Wells, based in Dereham, has seen the cost of many items increase - Credit: CC Wells

"The more pallets you bring in lowers the cost but, if the product price is up and the sales are not there, you don’t need many pallets - so you are punished for having less. 

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"Anything in the height of the Spanish season at the moment, like courgettes, is extortionate in places. They are having the same bad weather as us at the moment, so they are having to adapt their methods.

"We are also looking at increased costs when it comes to customs, quality control, tyres, fuel - and the national living wage is going up."

While CC Wells prides itself on keeping prices low, that task has been complicated by the current climate. 

CC Wells sells to customers across Norfolk and Suffolk

CC Wells sells to customers across Norfolk and Suffolk - Credit: CC Wells

Ultimately, admitted Mr Pegrum, some of the cost has to be absorbed by the customer. 

"A lot of customers are on the breadline, and you have to try and find the best products you can for the cheapest price," he added.

"At the same time, our costs have gone up, so it is hard to hit that nail on the head.

"We are finding that, with some items, prices can stay low because the demand is not there. But with added transport costs, you are looking at some products being two or three times the price they would have been this time last year.

"Somebody has to foot the bill. If our products cost more, we have to charge more; if they cost less, we charge less. We are very fair and our regulars know that."

Greengrocer CC Wells is based in Dereham

Greengrocer CC Wells is based in Dereham - Credit: CC Wells