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Carol Wagstaff, Professor of Crop Quality for Health, University of Reading explains the shortages

Supermarkets limiting sales of veg per customer

Across the UK supermarkets are facing shortages of some fruit and vegetables.

Asda said it was capping sales of items such as tomatoes, peppers and lettuce at three each per customer. Morrisons said limits of two on products like cucumbers would be introduced at stores from Tuesday.
However, Tesco, Sainsbury's, Lidl, Aldi, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer currently do not have limits in place.

Carol Wagstaff, Professor of Crop Quality for Health at the University of Reading, explains why this is and what impact climate change has on the role of food production.

Professor Wagstaff said: “Many of our retailers and food service providers are struggling to meet orders and consumer demand for crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and broccoli. 

“Poor weather in Spain - which has seen snow storms, heavy rainfall and thunderstorms recently - is the underlying cause of these shortages. Crops are sown weeks and months in advance with growers having to predict how long they will take to reach harvest maturity. When unseasonably cold or wet weather strikes, the plants simply slow down – or in some cases are killed by frosts and floods. 

“Climate change is causing an increased frequency of extreme weather events which will make our supply of fresh food more vulnerable. Although it would be good to grow more of our food in the UK, we have to recognise that to produce crops out of season requires high energy for additional heating and artificial lighting of glasshouses and polytunnels – and we would need to be confident that this comes from renewable sources to avoid simply adding to the challenges of climate change. 

“If we only eat vegetables that are in season, then at this time of year we would really struggle to eat the five-a-day that we need as part of a healthy diet.”

For more information:
Ollie Sirrell
Tel: +44118 378 5870

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