Shoppers could face more fruit and vegetable shortages due to weather

Low stocks were also reported earlier this year (PA) (PA Wire)
Low stocks were also reported earlier this year (PA) (PA Wire)

Shoppers could face more fruit and vegetable shortages as temperatures in southern Spain continue to soar to record levels.

Supermarkets were forced to ration a range of fruit and vegetables earlier this year after poor weather in Europe and Africa led to shortages.

Tesco, Aldi, Morrisons and Lidl have limited the purchases of items such as peppers, tomatoes, lettuce and cucumbers by shoppers.

Sainsbury’s has warned of further shortages this week. Simon Roberts, chief executive of the supermarket, said problems with fresh produce such as a peppers remained.

Christine McDowell, from the National Farmers’ Union, said: “British growers continue to face significant cost increases, such as energy and labour, and many simply can’t afford to keep producing food with the current returns.”

A spokesperson for Waitrose added: “We’re working hard with our suppliers to get our full range [of peppers] back on our shelves and expect stock levels to stabilise in the coming weeks.”

Spain is key to supplying the UK with peppers through winter but weather conditions have seen supplies dwindle.

Spain has been in drought since January last year and this is likely to be the hottest, driest April on record with temperatures reaching 39C.

The British Retail Consortium said: “Difficult weather conditions in the south of Europe and northern Africa disrupted harvest.’’

Last year UK farmers warned that there could be pepper and cucumber shortages in the spring because supermarkets were not paying enough.

Lea Valley Growers Association, which produces three quarters of Britain’s cucumbers and peppers, said 40 of its 80 members opted not to plant vegetables over concerns they would make financial losses.