A Northern Ireland supermarket lobbyist has insisted that whilst there are shortages of certain fresh foods in shops, the situation is getting better by the week. Aodhan Connolly from the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium (the Ulster element of the giant British Retail Consortium) commented on pictures that surfaced last week, showing empty shelves.
The blame for the shortages has widely been laid at the door of the Northern Ireland Protocol; an element of the UK’s post-Brexit deal which means that GB-to-NI shipping firms must now contend with extra paperwork and port checks.
Mr Connolly said he had gone to two different Belfast stores on Sunday morning, and both “had plenty of stock – it is really dependent which supermarket you go to. At this time of year [the UK] is very reliant on stuff coming from the EU – it’s about 90% of lettuce , 80% of tomatoes and about 65% of fresh fruit and veg.”
He went on to add that the average supermarket has up to 50,000 product lines, “and this is affecting only a couple of hundred”.
He told newsletter.co.uk there is “no single reason” why a small greengrocer may be well-stocked compared to a supermarket, but it could be down to the fact people tend to buy in bulk from supermarkets.
He concluded: “There’s not food shortages, there are choice issues. Things are starting to work a lot more smoothly than they had done in the last two weeks.”