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New supermarket restrictions on fruit and vegetables

How will you be affected by these new restrictions and how long will they last?

A photo of Daniel Sharpe-Szunko, the author

By Daniel Sharpe-Szunko

Published on: 24 February 2023

2 min read

How will I be affected by the new supermarket restrictions on fruit and vegetables?

Several major high street supermarkets have placed restrictions on how much fruit and vegetables we can buy due to global supply issues.

Why is there a shortage in fruit and vegetable supply?

The recent cold weather which has brought unusually cold weather to the UK, Europe and North Africa. During the winter months, the UK imports most of its fruit and vegetable supplies from overseas, including 95% of tomatoes and 90% of lettuces.

Most of the supply grown in southern Spain and north Africa (Morocco) has been impacted by floods and storms, as well as colder weather than normal. Morocco has stopped all exports of tomatoes, onions and potatoes to West Africa in February to protect exports to Europe.

How long will this last?

The expectations are that the restrictions will be in place for “a few weeks” to when the British seasons for growing starts. Supermarkets are working with farmers and they are both well prepared for these situations.

It is likely for things to return to normal as we enter the Spring months and growing conditions improve across the country.

Which supermarkets are impacted?

As we stand there are still only a handful of supermarket chains that are experiencing sourcing challenges on some products, with more news to follow from others.

Below we have the supermarkets that have introduced a temporary limit on the number of fruit and vegetables customers can pick up.

Supermarket chainRestrictions (currently)Limits on items
AldiPeppers, cucumbers, tomatoes3
AsdaTomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, lettuce, salads, broccoli, cauliflower and raspberries3
Co-OpTBCTBC
LidlNo restrictionsN/A
M&STBCTBC
Morrison’sTomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce and peppers2
Sainsbury’sNo restrictionsN/A
TescoTomatoes, peppers, and cucmbers3
WaitroseNo restrictionsN/A

Products that are grown in Spain and north Africa will be the ones that supermarkets are experiencing a short supply of at the moment.

Currently we can see that there are a small number of fruit and veg that are going to be restricted, including:

  • Tomatoes (packs and loose) *worst affected
  • Cucumbers
  • Cauliflowers
  • Peppers (loose and packs)
  • Broccoli
  • Lettuce
  • Salad bags
  • Raspberries (punnets)

It is hoped that the impact on supermarket fruit and vegetable lines should be lessened soon, once British growing season begins.

It is also likely that the supply of eggs in the UK might be impacted over the coming weeks or months, which is due to the current unprecedented outbreak of avian flu.

Resources

Statista – Food shortages in Great Britain – Statistics & facts

Office for National Statistics – Recent challenges faced by food and drink businesses and their impact on prices (2022)

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