Tesco, Aldi, Asda and Morrisons are limiting sales of some fruit and vegetables to handle a shortage of supplies from Europe and Africa.
Which fruit and vegetables are affected by the shortages?
The problem started with tomatoes but has since widened to peppers, cucumbers, lettuce, salad bags, broccoli, cauliflower and raspberries. Tesco and Aldi have introduced limits of three per customer on sales of tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers.
Asda is limiting customers to three on sales of lettuce, salad bags, broccoli, cauliflowers and raspberry punnets, along with tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. Morrisons has set a limit of two on cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce and peppers. Other major UK supermarkets have not, at the time of writing, announced any limits.
What is causing the shortage?
Difficult weather conditions in the south of Europe and northern Africa have disrupted the harvest for some fruit and vegetables including tomatoes and peppers. In the winter months the UK imports around 95% of its tomatoes and 90% of its lettuces, most of it from Spain and north Africa.
However growers and suppliers in Morocco have had to contend with cold temperatures, heavy rain, flooding and cancelled ferries over the past three to four weeks – all of which have affected the volume of fruit reaching Britain. Supplies from Britain’s other major winter source, Spain, have also been badly affected by weather.
The UK also gets some produce at this time of year from domestic growers and the Netherlands, but producers in both countries have reported cutting back on their use of greenhouses because of high energy prices.
How long will it last?
The British Retail Consortium said disruption was expected to last a few weeks. Retailers have stressed that buying limits are temporary until supplies improve in the coming days or weeks, helped by the UK moving into its growing season.