British supermarkets Tesco, Aldi and Asda limit fruits and salads to vegetables.


Major UK supermarkets reopen rationing sales of some basic fruits and vegetables for salad, blaming bad weather that reduced production in Spain and North Africa.


The UK’s largest supermarket confirmed to CNN on Wednesday that it had temporarily limited the number of packs of tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers to three per customer.

Asda told CNN it was temporary. purchase restrictions some items up to three packs per customer. These include tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and lettuce.

“Like other supermarkets, we are having trouble finding some products grown in southern Spain and North Africa,” said an Asda spokesperson.

Morrisons told CNN that tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and lettuce were limited to two packs per customer. Aldi, the German discount grocery chain, announced Wednesday that it will also impose a limit of three packs of peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes per person in its UK stores.

Asda, Morrisons and Aldi are the UK’s third, fourth and fifth largest supermarket chains respectively, according to Kantar’s market share data.


The United Kingdom’s second-largest food retailer told CNN it has no plans to restrict fruit and vegetable sales.

The rationing is another blow to UK buyers who are already struggling with record-breaking products. rising priceswho ignited the worst cost of living crisis in decades.

Food price inflation hit 16.7% in the four weeks to Jan. 22, Kantar said. This is the highest level since the data company started tracking the metric in 2008.

“The more we face shortages, the more it will drive food inflation,” said Minette Butters, president of the National Farmers Union (NFU), which represents more than 46,000 farming and growing businesses. BBC Wednesday.

A spokesperson for the UK Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said in a statement: “We understand the public’s concerns about the supply of fresh vegetables. However, the UK has a very resilient food supply chain and is well prepared for disruptions.”

So what explains the empty shelves?

Asda and Morrisons cited bad weather in key growing regions as the main reason for shortages.

Andrew Woods, associate editor of Mintec, a commodity data company, told CNN that the weather is hotter than usual in Spain and Morocco last fall, coupled with a cold snap over the past two weeks, production has plummeted.

According to him, the tomato crop in southern Spain is 20% less than a year ago.

The poorer crops are problematic for UK retailers as they depend on import to replenish their supplies at this time of the year.

According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), a trade group, UK supermarkets import 95% of their tomatoes and 90% of their lettuce in December and typically import the same proportions in March.

Aldi is limiting purchases of peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes.

James Bailey, chief executive of Waitrose supermarket, told LBC radio on Monday that snow and hail were in Spain, and hail was in parts of North Africa.[ed] from a large proportion” of key crops.

The high-end supermarket chain told CNN it is “monitoring the situation” but has no plans to introduce rationing.

“Give me about [two weeks] and other growing seasons in other parts of the world will catch up, and we should be able to bring back those stocks,” Bailey added.

The BRC also says it expects the current disruption to last several weeks before home-grown products fill gaps on UK store shelves.

“Supermarkets are adept at managing supply chain challenges and working with farmers to ensure customers have access to a wide range of fresh produce,” Andrew Opie, BRC director of food and sustainability, told CNN.

High input costs According to the NFU, they contributed to shortages of fruits and vegetables, as well as reduced production in the agricultural sector as a whole.

“Labor shortages and skyrocketing energy prices are hitting the poultry industry, already swept by bird flu, as well as horticultural businesses and pig farms,” ​​Butters said in a speech on Tuesday.

Price natural gas – for key entry Nitrogen fertilizers have jumped since Russia invaded Ukraine last year. Although gas prices have declined in recent weeks, they are still three times the historical average. fertilizer costs are up 169% since 2019, Butters noted..

Empty shelves of fruits and vegetables at an Asda store in London on February 21, 2023.

Tomato and cucumber production is expected to fall to its lowest level since the union began keeping records in 1985, according to the NFU, due to declining costs.

Mintec’s Woods said processing and storing vegetables like tomatoes is “energy intensive.”

Europe also struggled with many of the same problems in recent months.

“Across Europe, deliveries [of tomatoes] They are reported to be tight and growers continue to struggle with higher fertilizer, energy and labor costs,” Mintec said in a note.

However, there is currently little indication – in media reports or on social media — that retailers in other countries are rationing sales.

But Defra said in a statement on Wednesday that “similar disruptions are being seen in other countries” and that it is helping British manufacturers by expanding the visa scheme for seasonal workers to fill workforce gaps.

British supermarkets have not cited Brexit as the cause of the supply crisis. But NFU and some campaign groups argue that this exacerbated the labor shortage.

Direct subsidies to British farmers from the European Union are being phased out, increasing uncertainty for farmers, Butters said in her speech. The UK plans to fully implement its own subsidy scheme by 2024.

— Julia Horowitz shared a story.

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