Supermarket food shortages: Roast chicken could disappear from UK shelves


Brits may have to bid farewell to the classic roast, as British roast chicken is the latest supermarket item hit with supply issues.

Poultry bosses say the industry is at “breaking point”, as producers are finding it increasingly difficult to cope with the cost of getting the item on the shelves.

Higher energy bills and packaging prices have been blamed for the shortage, with already gaping holes being seen on supermarket shelves.

The British Poultry Council has warned the sector is “at breaking point” unless shops start to pay more to stock the British classic.

Fruit and vegetable stocks could also be hit as temperatures in Spain and the Mediterranean region have made growing conditions difficult, with the fallout hitting UK imports.

Lidl has become the most recent store to restrict sales of specific fruit and vegetables. According to BBC News, the German discount shop will cap the number of tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers that each customer can purchase at three.

It is in line with similar actions taken by Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, and Aldi. Morrisons has gone one step further and is limiting some items to two per person, while Aldi and Tesco only allow three items per customer.

Tobacco packs, peppers, cucumber, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, salad bags, and raspberries are just a few of the things that Asda is restricting purchases of, to three per customer.

Environment Secretary Therese Coffey has revealed that shortages of some fruit and vegetables will take two to four weeks to be resolved.

The British Tomato Growers’ Association also shared that, with the upcoming British tomato-growing season, the stocks should be replenished by the end of March or the start of April.

Food shortages are coming at a time when the president of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), Minette Batters, is expected to warn that time is running out for the Government to back British farming.

After Russia's invasion of Ukraine last year, Britain's retailers experienced supply-chain problems; however, as Christmas approached, things seemed to improve.

But turbulent weather in nations where the UK gets its supply from has meant supermarkets have been unable to keep up with demand and fill their shelves.

Which foods are in short supply?

Salad crops

Due to severe weather in Europe and Africa, there aren't enough cucumbers, lettuce, peppers, and tomatoes.

The UK depends on Morocco and Spain for vegetables during the winter but, because of heavy rain and floods, suppliers have been hit by ferry cancellations, which have affected lorry transport.

Supermarkets have also been experiencing shortages of broccoli and citrus fruits.


Since the UK has been experiencing food shortages on and off for the past few months, supermarkets were forced to restrict egg purchases late last year.

Higher fuel, feed, and fertiliser costs, as well as avian influenza outbreaks, have increased prices. The British Free Range Egg Producers Association says that the cost of feeding hens has gone up by at least 50 per cent, while the price of fuel has increased by 30 per cent.

And, even though the price of eggs has increased by about 45p at supermarkets and other retailers, farmers are not benefitting from the increase.

Why are there shortages?

Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said: “Difficult weather conditions in the South of Europe and Northern Africa have disrupted harvest for some fruit and vegetables, including tomatoes.”

Growers contend that the shortages are part of a larger problem affecting the UK's food supply.

Due to rising expenses, farmers across the UK have been compelled to reduce their output.

The cost of cultivating a tomato climbed by 27 per cent between 2021 and 2022, according to research released by the NFU in November. This increase was primarily caused by rising energy prices. Other crops, such as lettuce, broccoli, and potatoes, also experienced similar increases.

Despite the fact that Britain has always relied on fresh produce from Spain and Northern Africa over the winter, growers claim this year's need is much greater.

This is because the high expense of heating greenhouses has discouraged growers in Britain and Northern Europe from planting for a winter harvest.

What are the best foods to stockpile?

There are a few affordable foods to stockpile in case of future emergencies.

Dried or canned beans are a versatile kitchen staple, with high fibre.

Rice, grains, and pasta are complex carbohydrates that keep you fuller for longer and can help you manage your cholesterol.

Canned vegetables and fruit can come in handy when there are shortages.

While canned tuna is an inexpensive form of good-quality protein, and peanut butter is also an easily accessible source of protein.

Broth and stock soups are comfort foods and easy to make.

What else has been in shortage?

Last month, The Guardian reported the shortage of medication in the UK.

Throat lozenges, cough mixtures, and some painkillers, antibiotics, and Hormone-Replacement Therapy (HRT) were among the affected items.

The shortage was a result of the prime minister’s “lack of planning”, it reported.