Britain struggling through shortage of tomatoes

LONDON, England: Difficult weather in southern Europe and northern Africa has disrupted the harvests of a range of crops, resulting in Britain facing a shortage of vegetables, particularly tomatoes.

Asda, Britain’s third largest grocery chain, said this week that it had introduced a temporary three pack limit for purchases of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, lettuce, salad bags, broccoli, cauliflower and raspberries.

Meanwhile, the British Retail Consortium, which represents all major supermarkets, including Tesco and Sainsbury’s, said the supply issues were industry wide.

"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," Andrew Opie, the BRC’s director of food & sustainability, said, as quoted by Reuters.

Grocers said the situation was exacerbated by less winter production in greenhouses in Britain and the Netherlands due to high energy costs.

Though largely self-sufficient in the summer, Britain typically imports 95 percent of its tomatoes and 90 percent of lettuce from December to March, according to BRC data.

Britain is particularly reliant on Spain, and increasingly Morocco, which earlier this month barred exports of tomatoes, onions and potatoes to West African countries to reduce domestic prices and protect exports to Europe.

"The situation is beginning to be worrying, as some companies are starting to have problems in meeting their clients’ schedules," the Association of Fruit and Vegetable Producers’ Organisations of Almeria, Coexphal, said in a statement.
Other European countries appear less impacted than Britain, with German wholesaler Metro saying it was unaffected.