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Fruit and vegetable shortages could last for three months

Written by: Rebecca Goodman
The shortage of certain fruit and vegetables and rationing of these items could last until May, one growing association has said.

Four major supermarkets are now rationing the number of food items after supply issues have caused shortages.

Tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, lettuce, broccoli and raspberries are all among the items being rationed.

Tesco and Aldi confirmed they were both rationing certain items yesterday while Asda and Morrisons brought in limits for shoppers earlier in the week.

Poor weather conditions, soaring energy and labour costs, and Brexit have all been blamed for the shortages.

The Environment Secretary, Therese Coffey, said yesterday that shoppers could see rationing for the next month.

Food shortages could last until May

But UK growers have said the shortages of items including tomatoes, peppers and lettuce could last longer.

The Lea Valley Growers Association (LVGA), whose members are responsible for around three quarters of the UK cucumber and pepper crops along with aubergines and tomatoes, told the BBC it believed shortages could last until May.

The main cause given for the shortages is poor weather conditions in Spain and Morocco, the countries which the UK usually imports around 95% of its tomatoes and 90% of its lettuces from in the winter, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

The LVGA also said the situation was being made worse by UK producers delaying planting crops this year because of soaring energy costs for using greenhouses along with low prices offered by supermarkets for their produce.

Lee Stiles, secretary of the LVGA, told the BBC: “Some Lea Valley pack houses have closed for a few days due to lack of deliveries, and others are losing workers as they could only offer three hours work a day instead of full shifts over the last few weeks.”

“It’s too late for UK growers to step in and try and make up some of the shortfall.”

Andrew Opie, director of food & sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said: “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.

“In the meantime, some stores are introducing temporary limits on the number of products customers can buy to ensure availability for everyone.”

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