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22nd Feb 2023

UK Supermarkets impose purchase limits on fruit and veg amid supply shortages

Katy Thornton

Supermarkets impose purchase limits on fruit and veg amid supply shortages

The rationing is expected to last ‘weeks’

Asda and Morrisons have imposed purchase limits on lines of fruit and vegetables, with other supermarkets considering similar temporary measures amid dwindling fresh produce supplies.

Asda has introduced a customer limit of three on tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, lettuce, salad bags, broccoli, cauliflower and raspberries.

Meanwhile, Morrisons said it would be introducing limits of two items per customer across tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, and peppers from Wednesday.

A sign in one store read: “Availability across our tomato range has been significantly impacted by adverse weather conditions across Spain and Morocco.

“The current shortage is likely to improve within a couple of weeks.”

Other supermarkets are understood to be considering similar temporary measures.

An Asda spokesman said: “Like other supermarkets, we are experiencing sourcing challenges on some products that are grown in southern Spain and north Africa.

“We have introduced a temporary limit of three of each product on a very small number of fruit and vegetable lines, so customers can pick up the products they are looking for.”

Supplies of fruit and veg from Europe and Africa have been disrupted because bad weather, such as below average temperatures and flooding, over the winter has led to a poor harvest.

Growers and suppliers in Morocco have had to contend with cold temperatures, heavy rain, flooding and cancelled ferries over the past month, affecting the volume of fruit reaching Britain.

And supplies from Spain have also been badly affected by bad weather.

At the same time, producers have been cutting back on greenhouse numbers due to soaring energy prices across the continent, the Independent reports.

Production problems in Morocco began in January with unusually cold night-time temperatures that affected tomato ripening.

Minette Batters, the head of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), told Sky News: “Everybody wants to avoid rationing, effectively, which is what we saw with eggs in December.”

“But I think there are going to be challenges on availability of some food items.”

She added that the “last thing anybody wants to do is to create a level of panic buying”.

Batters also explained that the production of some British vegetables grown in heated, covered buildings, such as tomatoes and cucumbers, was already falling, and that field veg such as potatoes, cauliflower and purple sprouting broccoli could also be impacted

But some on social media have suggested there is more to the shortages than bad weather, and that factors such as Brexit may be to blame, by poitning out that supermarkets in Europe aren’t experiencing any shortages.

Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said: “Difficult weather conditions in the south of Europe and northern Africa have disrupted harvest for some fruit and vegetables including tomatoes.

“However, supermarkets are adept at managing supply chain issues and are working with farmers to ensure that customers are able to access a wide range of fresh produce.”

It is hoped that the shortages will ease in the coming weeks as British producers move into the growing season. This is expected to ease long-term pressures on retailers looking for alternatives to items produced in Spain and north Africa.

This article originally appeared on JOE UK

Header images via Twitter/AndreaCowanSNP & /JonnyFawr

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