The largest supermarket chains in the UK have introduced limits on the purchase of certain vegetables. The shortages are the result of harvest problems in southern Europe and North Africa. This could be the “tip of the iceberg,” the National Farmers Union (NFU) said.
In recent days, social media has been flooded with photos of empty shelves in the fruit and vegetable sections of supermarkets, with tomatoes in particular missing. Therefore, Tesco has introduced a purchase limit of three pieces of tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers per customer, similar limits are also in the British branch of the German Aldi discounter. On Tuesday, Asda imposed purchase limits on eight types of vegetables and fruits, and Morrisons on Wednesday – on four types.
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Problems with the availability of vegetables are the result of bad weather, which limits harvests in Europe and North Africa. Brexit and lower deliveries from UK and Dutch producers, hit by spikes in energy bills for heating greenhouses, have also contributed to the problems.
Fruit and vegetable shortages in the UK
NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw stated that reliance on imports made it Great Britain is particularly vulnerable to “drastic weather events”.
According to him, the country “is at a turning point” and needs to “take control of the food it produces” in the face of “instability around the world” that the war in Ukraine and the climate crisis.
He added: – Growers are concerned that the profits will not be enough to justify planting vegetables in greenhouses. After all, at the moment we have many greenhouses where it would be possible to grow tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, eggplants, and they are empty because farmers are not sure that they will be able to pay for it.
– We’ve always had some imports, but now we’re totally dependent on imports. So while Morocco and Spain have had weather shocks, we have shortages,” Bradshaw said.
He also admitted that the current problems are also related to the UK’s decision to leave the EU.
Seasonal vegetables and turnip shortages
Environment Secretary Therese Coffey caused an uproar when she suggested people should love seasonal produce like turnips.
– A lot of people would eat turnips right now, instead of necessarily thinking about lettuce, tomatoes and the like. I am aware that consumers want year-round choice and that is why our supermarkets, food producers and growers around the world want to meet this need.
The British daily pointed out that after the comments of the environment secretary, there were already reports of a shortage of turnips.
Main photo source: PAP/EPA/NEIL HALL