Why Are Supermarkets Rationing Tomatoes?

uk food shortages
What's Behind The Food Shortages In The UK?getty

Popping down to your local shop might look a bit different these days. Not only are the egg shelves looking pretty empty and much more expensive, but the salad section is pretty sparse too.

Tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers are among the veg in the shortest supply, and all we can say is thank goodness its not full salad season, or we'd be pretty stuck for crunchy veg.

So, why is there a food shortage right now?

The UK government says the shortage of fruit and vegetables in shops at the moment is largely due to bad weather in the countries where this produce is grown at this time of year. Most of the tomatoes, cucumber and other salad bits you pick up in the winter months is usually grown in the warmer countries in Europe and Africa, and if the weather isn't favourable in these places, it has a knock-on effect on the countries they supply, like the UK. In particular, southern Spain has suffered some bad spells of weather, and Morocco has had bad flooding and stormy weather.

food shortages

Another factor impacting the shortages is high electricity prices. Some out-of-season fruit and vegetables are grown in the UK and in the Netherlands in large greenhouses which have to be heated using vast amounts of electricity. If farmers are unable to pay the higher prices, or supermarkets are unwilling to pay the farmers more for their produce, shortages are inevitable.

Which supermarkets are rationing fruit and veg, and which types?

Most supermarkets have gone as far to limit how many of each type of fruit and vegetable you can buy, which might put a spanner in the works for any meal-prepping you had planned over the next couple of weeks.

Tesco and Aldi are putting a limit of three per customer on tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. ASDA has limited sales of lettuce, salad bags, broccoli, cauliflowers and raspberry punnets to three per customer, and Morrisons has said that customers can only pick up two cucumbers, lettuce and peppers each.

Thankfully, most supermarkets say the shortages will only last a few weeks, so we should be seeing these ingredients back on shelves soon!

food shortages uk

In the meantime, it's a great opportunity to explore the wealth of lovely seasonal fruit and vegetables grown right here in the UK that you can pick up readily in the shops.

Veg like carrots, parsnips, purple sprouting broccoli, kale, broad beans and fruit like apples and pears are all in good supply and will add brilliant early spring seasonality to your midweek meal rotation.

Instead of using fresh tomatoes, lettuce and cucumber in a salad or sandwich for lunch, this warming Ginger Miso Carrot Soup makes the most of British carrots, and is super easy to make. Or, you could switch out peppers in a Thai Green Chicken Curry or Fajita dish with purple sprouting broccoli for a seasonal spin on a midweek classic.