MANY of the nation’s much loved vegetables such as lettuce, broccoli, courgette and spinach have been missing from the shelves of many local supermarkets.
This comes as severe weather has hit parts of southern Spain and Italy, who supply Europe with 80% of its vegetables during the winter months. It has been the worst weather in the Murcia region for 30 years.
Big chain supermarkets like Asda and Tesco are rationing iceberg lettuces at six and three per person respectively to stop shoppers from bulk or panic buying.
Tom, who works at a local Asda store said: “Customers aren’t happy that they’re having to ration their lettuces.
“Even the managers are unhappy as they keep having to ring other stores to see if they have any spare vegetables.”
Snow and floods caused by heavy rain have made many of the fields, in Murcia especially, unable to grow vegetables which are imported by the UK and have left many supermarket shelves empty and even online the products have been made unavailable.
The UK has to import these ‘seasonal’ vegetables as we do not have the climate to grow them ourselves over winter.
Limited availability of these vegetables is causing prices to soar, and for them to be ‘treated like gold’ across the continent, with the price of courgettes increasing by up to 60%.
The unusual cold snap across much of the Mediterranean could be an affect of climate change, and many supermarkets and suppliers are looking elsewhere for the produce such as America.
“The customers aren’t happy that the lettuces are coming from America because it means they have to pay 60p for a 20p lettuce,” says Tom.
Importing vegetable produce from America is unusual for the UK, a move which hasn’t been made for over 10 years.
Some shoppers took to Twitter to share their light-hearted responses to the crisis:
Whereas some took the opportunity to encourage people to shop for in-season veg at their local markets:
— Danielle Ellis (@BreadBakerDani) February 3, 2017
Consumers have become accustomed to being able to buy these vegetables all year round which is what is causing such a stir. There are plenty of alternative vegetables available including frozen ones.
Oranges and tomatoes are expected to be hit next, and the cost of the fruit and vegetables affected will rise as wholesalers are importing from California, which is much more expensive.
The shortage is said to last at least another two months as bad weather is set to continue across the Mediterranean and southern Europe.