In recent days, some of the largest supermarket chains in the United Kingdom have been imposing limits on customers on the purchase of certain types of fresh fruit and vegetables: at Tesco for example, the largest and most present group in the country, a person cannot buy more than three tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers at a time. In addition to Tesco, the Aldi, Asda and Morrisons chains have introduced similar rules, while others such as Sainsbury’s and Lidl have not yet done so.
The reason for the restrictions on purchases is that there is a certain shortage of fruit and vegetables in the UK at the moment, and in recent days many photos of empty shelves in supermarkets have been circulating on social networks. According to the British government, the shortage is mainly due to the exceptional weather conditions that have ruined the crops in Spain and in the countries of North Africa, from which the United Kingdom imports a large part of those products.
In Spain, for example, the winter was particularly cold, in Morocco the crops were affected by frequent floods. There were also further cancellations and delays of ferries carrying goods from those countries due to storms. Normally at this time of year the UK would have some workarounds, such as domestic production and imports from the Netherlands, but this year the big rise in electricity prices has greatly reduced the activity of the greenhouses where grown fruit and vegetables in winter.
This winter has also been particularly cold in the United Kingdom, after the country had faced the highest temperatures in its history in the summer months. For now, supermarkets have imposed limits only on tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower and raspberries, but the shortages are actually far more generalized and concern many other products. Among these there is also olive oil, which is always imported to a great extent from Spain: this summer less than usual was produced and exported due to the heat, and for this reason in recent months the prices in the United Kingdom of olive oil have greatly increased.
– Read also: The UK is not made for heat
Tim O’Malley, director of one of the UK’s largest fresh food companies, Nationwide Produce, said produce shortages were likely to drive up prices across the board in the coming weeks: and 2022 for the UK was it was already the year in which food products had undergone the greatest increases in recent decades, with a 16.7 per cent increase in prices.
The trade association representing UK retailers, the British Retail Consortium, has estimated that shortages are expected to last no more than a few weeks, i.e. until the growing season begins in the country too, and should therefore then there are more alternatives for finding products.
It’s currently unclear whether Brexit, the UK’s exit from the European Union, is playing a role in the shortage of fresh fruit and vegetables, but that seems unlikely: the shortages would have more to do with how the UK has always procured certain fresh products, choosing and paying its suppliers year by year rather than with short-term solutions, as European countries often do (which would allow it greater flexibility to enter into new contracts with other supplier countries, in case of crisis).
Whether the new rules on imports from the European Union will have an impact on the UK will be clearer in 2024, but in the meantime it seems that the shortage of fruit and vegetables is also affecting Ireland to some extent, which instead is part of the ‘European Union.
Leave a Reply