UK supermarkets Tesco, Aldi and Asda are rationing fruit and salad greens


Major UK supermarkets have began rationing the sale of some staple fruits and salad greens, blaming poor climate that has depressed manufacturing in Spain and north Africa.


(TSCDF), the UK’s largest grocery store, confirmed to CNN Wednesday that it had quickly capped the variety of packs of tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers to 3 per buyer.

Asda informed CNN that it was quickly limiting purchases of some objects to 3 packs per buyer. These embody tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and lettuce.

“Like other supermarkets, we are experiencing sourcing challenges on some products that are grown in southern Spain and north Africa,” an Asda spokesperson mentioned.

Morrisons informed CNN that it had imposed a cap of two packs per buyer on tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and lettuce. Aldi, a German low cost grocery chain, introduced Wednesday that it might additionally introduce a restrict of three packs per individual on peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes in its UK shops.

Asda, Morrisons and Aldi are Britain’s third-, fourth- and fifth-biggest grocery store chains respectively, in keeping with market share knowledge from Kantar.


(JSAIY), the United Kingdom’s second-largest meals retailer, informed CNN it had no plans to ration the sale of fruit and greens.

The rationing is one other knock for British buyers already grappling with document grocery worth rises, which have infected the worst cost-of-living disaster in many years.

In the 4 weeks to January 22, meals worth inflation hit 16.7%, in keeping with Kantar. That’s its highest stage because the knowledge firm began monitoring the indicator in 2008.

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“The more we face shortages, the more it will drive food inflation,” Minette Batters, president of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), which represents greater than 46,000 farming and rising companies, informed the BBC Wednesday.

A spokesperson for the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) mentioned in an announcement: “We understand public concerns around the supply of fresh vegetables. However, the UK has a highly resilient food supply chain and is well-equipped to deal with disruption.”

So what explains the empty cabinets?

Asda and Morrisons pointed the finger at poor climate in key rising areas as the principle driver of the shortages.

Andrew Woods, a sub-editor at Mintec, a commodities knowledge firm, informed CNN that hotter-than-average climate in Spain and Morocco final fall, mixed with a chilly snap over the previous two weeks, had hit manufacturing.

The tomato crop in southern Spain is 20% smaller than a yr in the past, he mentioned.

The poorer harvests are problematic for UK retailers, reliant as they’re on imports to fill their shares at the moment of yr.

According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), a commerce group, UK supermarkets import 95% of their tomatoes and 90% of their lettuce in December, and sometimes import the identical proportions in March.

James Bailey, govt director of grocery store Waitrose, informed LBC radio Monday that snow and hail in Spain, in addition to hail in elements of north Africa, had “wip[ed] out a large proportion” of key crops.

The high-end grocery store chain informed CNN that it was “monitoring the situation” however had no plans to introduce rationing.

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“Give it about [two weeks] and the other growing seasons in other parts of the world will have caught up and we should be able to get that supply back in,” Bailey added.

The BRC additionally says it expects the present disruption to final just a few weeks earlier than home-grown produce arrives to fill the gaps on UK retailer cabinets.

“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,” Andrew Opie, the BRC’s director of meals and sustainability, informed CNN.

High enter prices have contributed to the shortages of fruit and greens, the NFU says, in addition to diminished manufacturing throughout the farming sector extra broadly.

“Labor shortages and soaring energy prices are hitting the poultry industry, already reeling from avian influenza, as well as horticultural businesses and pig farms,” Batters mentioned in a speech Tuesday.

The worth of pure gasoline — a key enter for nitrogen-based fertilizers — shot up following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine final yr. Though gasoline costs have fallen again in current weeks, they’re nonetheless triple their historic common, whereas fertilizer prices are up 169% since 2019, Batters famous.

Empty fruit and vegetable shelves at an Asda store in London on February 21, 2023.

According to the NFU, the manufacturing of tomatoes and cucumbers is anticipated to fall to the bottom ranges because the union began holding information in 1985, on the again of crippling enter prices.

Woods at Mintec mentioned processing and storing greens, resembling tomatoes, was “energy intensive.”

Europe, too, has wrestled with lots of the similar issues in current months.

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“Across Europe, supplies [of tomatoes] are reportedly tight, and growers continue to grapple with higher fertilizer, energy and labor costs,” Mintec mentioned in a observe.

Yet, at present, there are few indications — in media experiences or on social media — that retailers in different nations are rationing gross sales.

But Defra mentioned in its assertion Wednesday that “similar disruption is also being seen in other countries,” and that it was serving to UK growers by increasing a visa scheme for seasonal staff to fill labor gaps.

UK supermarkets haven’t cited Brexit as a cause for the provision crunch. But the NFU and a few campaign groups argue that it has worsened labor shortages.

Direct subsidy funds to UK farmers from the European Union are being phased out, which has elevated uncertainty for farmers, Batters mentioned in her speech. The United Kingdom plans to completely implement its personal subsidy scheme by 2024.

— Julia Horowitz contributed reporting.