At least three grocers in the United Kingdom are now rationing fruits and vegetables as retailers are hit by the effects of low harvests in parts of Europe and Africa, as well as adverse weather and issues with transportation.
Aldi, Asda, and Morrisons are now all imposing limits on what shoppers can buy as a result of the supply chain issue.
“We are limiting purchases of peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes to three units per person to ensure that as many customers as possible can buy what they need,” an Aldi UK spokesman told Dailymail.
Asda is limiting sales of items like tomatoes, peppers, and lettuce to three per customer. Morrisons is capping vegetable sales to just two products per customer as of Feb. 21.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) says that shortages are expected to last “a few weeks” until the UK’s growing season gets underway and retailers are able to find new supply sources, Yahoo! News reported.
“Difficult weather conditions in the South of Europe and Northern Africa have disrupted harvest for some fruit and vegetables including tomatoes and peppers,” said Andrew Opie, a director at the BRC, which represents all the major supermarkets, according to Dailymail. “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.”
Other reporting quotes the BRC saying that the UK imports about 95 percent of its tomatoes and 90 percent of lettuces — mostly from Spain and North Africa — during the winter months, citing unusually cold weather and floods impacting crop yields.
Some watchers also blame Brexit, the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, as the leading factor driving empty shelves at grocery stores.
The Independent quoted Liz Webster, Save British Farming chair, as saying, “The reason that we have food shortages in Britain, and that we don’t have food shortages in Spain – or anywhere else in the European Union – is because of Brexit, and also because of this disastrous Conservative government that has no interest in food production, farming or even food supply.”
In the last paragraph of the article, the Independent also attributes the food shortages to supply chain issues caused by the government’s response to the Covid pandemic, as well as energy costs.
Simply Red singer Mick Hucknall posted a request on Twitter that his followers share photos of their supermarket shelves.
“For the sake of balanced fairness can some of our mainland European friends pls post photos of their supermarket food shortages?” He asked. “Tx in advance.”
For the sake of balanced fairness can some of our mainland European friends pls post photos of their supermarket food shortages? Tx in advance. #BrexitBenefits
— Simply Red (@SimplyRedHQ) February 21, 2023
What followed was a sea of photos featuring well-stocked vegetable shelves in other European countries, including Spain, Portugal, Belgium, and Italy.