Soaring production costs in the past two years have threatened the future growth of East Anglia's fruit and vegetable sector, according to an industry report.

Commissioned by the National Farmers' Union (NFU), the new report by Promar International found that costs of horticultural production have increased by as much as 39pc in the past two years.

It includes significant price hikes in key inputs such as energy (up 218pc), fertiliser (47pc) and labour (24pc).

The crops impacted most by these increases include much of the UK’s favourite fruit and vegetables such as strawberries, tomatoes, apples and lettuce, says the report.

And it sparked warnings from the NFU that these pressures have forced some leading horticulture businesses to shelve their growth plans - putting the future of the sector at risk.

Norfolk NFU chairman Tim Papworth said fairer prices were needed from retailers to sustain a viable supply chain and improve UK self-sufficiency.

"The report demonstrates the huge rises in production costs growers have been facing," he said.

"Growers are not getting a fair deal from supermarkets and it is not fair that we are left to subsidise cheap food. That cannot continue.

"We need action if we are to see more people growing more fruit and vegetables in the country.

"We are continuing to import more and more. In this country we are only 50pc self-sufficient in vegetables and 15pc self-sufficient in fruit, which is an embarrassment.

"Farmers here could grow much more if the issues raised in this report are addressed.”

NFU horticulture and potatoes board chair Martin Emmett added: “I am seriously concerned to hear from growers that are thinking about cutting production this coming season while they continue to face uncertainty with costs, uncertainty around a long-term plan for where their workforce will come from and increasingly challenging relationships within their supply chain.

"Growers are doing everything they can to make sure the supply of homegrown fruit and vegetables are on supermarket shelves, but as highlighted in the report, there is likely to be further consolidation in production and distribution.

"If pressures continue as they are, it will be unsustainable for some businesses."