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Supermarkets including Tesco and Sainsbury's face tomato and pepper shortage ahead of UK growing season





Supermarkets are facing shortages of some fruits and vegetables with bad weather to blame for the disruption to supplies.

With the UK growing season not yet in full swing, retailers are reliant on imports from abroad for some fresh foods customers enjoy tucking into during the winter.

Bad weather has affected the amount of produce available to UK supermarkets
Bad weather has affected the amount of produce available to UK supermarkets

But the British Retail Consortium says bad weather in parts of southern Europe and Northern Africa has created a disrupted harvest, which is now leading to issues with quantities of some popular items including tomatoes and peppers.

When out of season in the UK, supermarkets in the colder months purchase the majority of tomatoes destined for UK households from countries including Spain and Morocco.

But warm weather in some parts of the continent which has then been followed by sudden cold snaps – as well as transport issues with cancelled ferries in Morocco – are both thought to be contributing to struggles and slow downs within usually reliable supply chains.

The BRC says it expects the issues to last 'a few weeks'
The BRC says it expects the issues to last 'a few weeks'

Pictures of empty shelves in supermarkets are starting to circulate on social media alongside reports from online grocery customers that orders are arriving with numerous key salad items missing.

Signs in some Tesco store aisles, which apologise for the lack of stock, say cold weather in Spain has impacted 'crop availability' and also resulted in the 'poor quality' of some items while Asda is reportedly introducing temporary limits on a small number of fruit and vegetable lines in some areas to try and control stock levels.

The British Retail Consortium says it expects the current disruption to last for 'a few weeks' but as the UK growing season gets closer British produce on the shelves will also help to offer alternatives to food coming from Spain and Northern Africa.

As the UK growing season gets closer British produce will help fill gaps. Image: iStock.
As the UK growing season gets closer British produce will help fill gaps. Image: iStock.

Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, explained: "Difficult weather conditions in the South of Europe and Northern Africa have disrupted harvest for some fruit and vegetables including tomatoes and peppers.

"While disruption is expected to last a few weeks, 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."

Online customers are noticing shortages of some popular salad items
Online customers are noticing shortages of some popular salad items

A lack of tomatoes and peppers is not the first shortage to hit shoppers in recent months.

With war continuing to rage in Ukraine, the production of foods reliant on cooking oil and wheat has been disrupted in the last year, while the UK's ongoing bird flu outbreak combined with the high running costs being experienced by poultry farmers has also contributed to a lack of British eggs in some supermarket branches.



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