Amid shortage of salad vegetables, UK calls in supermarket chiefs

Shops have imposed limits on customers buying tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers after supplies were hit by bad harvests.

The United Kingdom’s major supermarket groups have been called in by the government to discuss what they are doing to restock shelves with salad items as the country’s produce shortage entered a third week, the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said.

Food and farming minister Mark Spencer will meet the bosses of the country’s major grocers later on Monday.

On Monday, Lidl GB followed supermarket companies Tesco, Asda, Morrisons and Aldi in imposing customer purchase limits on tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers after supplies across the sector were hit by disrupted harvests in southern Europe and northern Africa due to unseasonable weather.

Lidl said it still had good availability across the majority of its stores, but had seen a recent increase in demand.

The crisis has been exacerbated by less winter production in greenhouses in the UK and the Netherlands because of high energy costs, with social media awash with pictures of empty fruit and vegetable shelves in supermarkets.

Spencer said the crisis had shown how dependent Britain can be on certain trade routes for some types of food.

“I know families expect the fresh produce they need to be on the shelves when they go in for their weekly shop. That is why I am calling in supermarket chiefs to find out what they are doing to get shelves stocked again and to outline how we can avoid a repeat of this,” he said in a statement.

Last week, Therese Coffey, minister for the environment, food and rural affairs, warned shortages could last up to another month.

She has been widely mocked for saying Britons who cannot get hold of salad vegetables might want to consider turnips instead.

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