Broccoli, lettuce shortages as vegetables run out

Updated / Friday, 3 Feb 2017 22:24
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European vegetable shortages are leading to supply issues in Ireland and the UK.

Tesco Ireland says it is experiencing supply issues with some fresh produce including spinach, lettuce, broccoli and courgettes, but there is no rationing.

In the UK, many supermarkets have rationed the number of lettuces each customer can purchase in stores and iceberg, sweet gem and romaine varieties have been taken off sale completely by some online.

An extreme mix of drought followed by flooding and freezing conditions has severely affected growers in southern Spain, while poor conditions have also hit farmers in Italy, Greece and Turkey.

Experts have warned that if the weather does not improve in the coming weeks the problem may continue until April, with customers hit by price rises.

Concerned shoppers in Britain have been sharing pictures of bare supermarket shelves with the hashtags #lettucecrisis and #courgettecrisis, while complaining that prices have nearly tripled in recent weeks.

London retail analyst Rob Gregory posted a photo on Twitter of empty boxes in a Tesco and a sign that read: "Due to continued weather problems in Spain, there is a shortage on Iceberg and other varied lettuce products.

"To protect the availability for all customers, we are limiting bulk purchases to three per person."

He tweeted: "My local Tesco also affected by the lettuce and salad rationing. Not much there to ration though!"

Someone else tweeted a photo of a Morrisons shelf label stating customers could only buy a maximum of two each.

Spain normally supplies half the vegetables on the European market during the winter months.

Supermarkets have been forced to look as far afield as the US west coast - more than 5,300 miles from Britain - to meet demand.

Tesco Ireland said it would continue to work with its suppliers and supply chain teams to ensure that customers have the best possible access to the products or alternatives where possible.

Separately, SuperValu has said it will suspend a free vegetable promotion following discussions with the Irish Farmers' Association.

The retailer ran the promotion last week offering free carrots and potatoes when customers bought discounted beef, and ran a similar offer this week on onions and mushrooms.

IFA President Joe Healy said the association will meet the retailer "in the near future to express farmers' anger at this type of promotion".