Shoppers find ’empty shelves’ as new shortage hits the UK
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Shoppers have reported a shortage of tomatoes, as well as other vegetables including peppers, across the UK. Customers at Asda in Chesser, Edinburgh, saw empty shelves this morning as the supermarket is experiencing a major shortage. Tomato suppliers blame the poor weather conditions in Spain and Morocco for the ongoing issue.
Spain and Morocco are the two main countries exporting the majority of tomatoes to the UK.
In the last few weeks, heavy rain and cold temperatures in the countries have affected tomato ripening.
Moreover, the heavy rains have also caused ferry cancellations and transport disruption which has made it almost impossible to bring the vegetables to the UK.
Supermarket Morrisons placed signs by the empty tomato shelves in stores across the UK saying: “Availability across our tomato range has been significantly impacted by adverse weather conditions across Spain and Morocco.
“The current shortage is likely to improve within a couple of weeks,” the supermarket added.
Shoppers have taken to social media to share their frustrations with Twitter user Jane George commenting: “Is there a UK shortage of #tomatoes at the moment???
“Just tried three different brand supermarkets and all have empty shelves… @AldiUK have not had any for over a week. Tesco says they are struggling to get any!!! What is the issue?”
Another one, Caroline Voaden, shared pictures of empty shelves at Morrisons saying: “So despite my best intentions I couldn’t have salad for dinner last night. Morrisons, what is going on? Supply chains? Staff shortages? Imports…??”
Shopper @kokeshimum shared a similar picture and explained: “I’m in Holmfirth. This was the Co-op Lidl and Aldi. Three stores all running low of or completely out of fresh produce.”
“No fresh tomatoes in Morrisons Acton today…” added @DrSimonAshworth.
Others said they had to go to at least five different supermarkets to find tomatoes.
Twitter user @PatrickJervis explained: “I had to go to five different supermarkets last night before managing to find tomatoes in Asda in Paignton!”
“Sainsbury’s Swansea yesterday,” said @LILIANLLEWELYN while sharing a picture of empty shelves. “Not a tomato in sight and choice of products is getting increasingly limited.”
The growing of tomatoes in Morocco has mainly been affected by storms, flooding and cancelled ferries, according to importers.
In Spain, they have been affected by the unusually cold temperatures in the south of the country with Almeria, in Andalusia, one of the most affected areas.
The commercial manager of Burbank Produce, Eddie Bowers, explained: “The lorries that got stuck were taking two or three days to get to the port and across into Spain.
“We had goods to load on Monday that didn’t land until Thursday because there was a lack of vehicles – they were all in the wrong places because of the issues last week.
“The biggest problem is the lack of vehicles because of the problems last week, and then we were hit with this week’s rain and flooding. It’s a perfect storm,” he told Fruitnet.
Tomato prices in the UK have increased due to the rise in energy, transport and production costs.
New research by Mintec showed that the average sale price of cherry tomatoes has risen by 58 percent year on year, which is £3.83/kg, and the Office of National Statistics reported that the price of tomatoes is the highest it has been in January 2023.
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