Grocery shortage could last another month warns UK government

The UK government has warned that its ongoing vegetable shortage could continue for up to another month.

Earlier this week, supermarkets including Tesco, Asda, Morrisons and Aldi imposed customer purchase limits on items such as tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers following disrupted harvests in southern Europe and north Africa.

In comments to parliament, Therese Coffey, minister for the environment, food and rural affairs, said: "I'm led to believe by my officials after discussion with industry retailers...the situation will last about another two to four weeks. It's important that we try and make sure that we get alternative sourcing options.”

In light of the ongoing shortage, former Sainsbury’s chief exec and current M&S non-executive director Justin King criticised the government for not helping UK growers with their energy bills which he said has exacerbated the issue. The government’s Energy and Trade Intensive Industries scheme (ETII) set up to help companies with energy costs excluded horticulture.

Speaking to BBC Radio, King said: "There is a genuine shortage but we did rather bring this problem upon ourselves. We could have chosen to subsidise the energy this winter as we have done for other industries."

King also said that Brexit has caused significant disruption, though this was refuted by Conservative lawmaker Desmond Swayne who said “If only I had been told before I voted for Brexit that it was going to cause frost in Morocco, I could have made a different decision.”

Minette Batters, the head of the National Farmers union, has also said that salad ingredient production in the UK has fallen to the lowest level since records began in 1985.

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