Supermarkets are rationing sales of lettuce and broccoli as the shortage of salad and vegetables supplied to the UK from Spanish growing regions gets worse.
Morrisons has a strict limit of three broccoli and two Iceberg lettuce per customer, while Tesco is rationing shoppers to three Iceberg’s per visit.
“Due to bad weather conditions in Spain, we are experiencing some availability issues, but are working with our suppliers to resolve them as quickly as possible,” a Tesco spokesperson tells PBUK.
Asda has a shortage of courgettes and aubergines but the supermarket is not understood to be limiting sales, and discounters Aldi and Lidl say they are not affected.
Sainsbury’s and the Co-Op are closely monitoring supplies and urging customers to shop responsibly.
“Severe weather has affected crops, but we are working with our suppliers to maintain supply for our customers,” a Sainsbury’s spokesperson tells PBUK.
Morrisons insists availability remains good and its temporary rationing policy has been introduced to mitigate bulk buying.
“Our availability of broccoli and iceberg lettuce is good. However, other businesses are experiencing shortages and we have seen some bulk buying in our stores. We have therefore had a cap on sales of broccoli and iceberg lettuce to ensure we maintain good supplies for our regular customers,” says a spokesperson.
“As you can imagine, most customers don’t buy more than three broccoli at a time.”
Meanwhile some shoppers are seeing the lighter side of this story and are taking to social media to post pictures of empty shelves and supermarket rationing signs.
It’s not just the retailers feeling the pinch, the foodservice industry is paying significantly higher prices for limited lettuce supplies or taking certain salad and vegetable lines off their menus.
Retailers’ rationing has come about after major Spanish growing regions, including Murcia, have been hit by a series of extreme weather in the last couple of months. Before Christmas there was heavy rainfall and flooding, followed by unusually low temperatures and snow.
This has led to huge damages to many different crops and prevented harvesting from taking place. As a result supply into the UK, and elsewhere in Europe, has been seriously hampered. This was further exacerbated by unusual snowfall in Italy and Greece and freezing temperatures across Eastern Europe, including Poland.
Earlier this week, Spain’s leading growing association, FEPEX, warned the shortages could last until April as the crisis deepens.