The torrential rain of last summer in the UK may mean the price of onions could shoot up by as much as 50% as supplies dwindle.

Last summer's severe weather has ruined the farm stock of onions, meaning consumers will need to look for an alternative as supermarkets resort to early imports and price hikes to fill the gap created by failed crops across England and other parts of Europe.

River Nene Organic Vegetables, a leading vegetable box scheme, warn the UK onion supply could run dry "way ahead of schedule", as early as March.

"The wet weather in June and July 2007 has had a dramatic impact on onion crops. Yields are down by around a third compared with last year and the onions that we have harvested on our organic farms had a very high water content, meaning the onions are prone to softening more quickly in store," said Riverford operations director Rob Haward. "This means the English crop is running out way ahead of schedule."

Growers in Europe have experienced a similar problems with the Dutch also suffering a poor year of rain. If UK grocers and supermarkets want to offer their customers onions this spring, they need to look farther afield to South America, although their crop won't be ready for harvest until March.

Haward continued: "The worst-case scenario is that onions won't be available, and at best the prices are going to go up. I wouldn't be surprised to see the current price of GBP£1 (US$1.96) per/kg go up to GBP£1.50 per/kg within a month.

"If the wet summer of 2007 is a result of longer term climate change, then we need to be prepared for a similar phenomenon to repeat."