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British supermarkets limit vegetable purchases per person due to Spain's weather-related supply shortage
BRITISH supermarkets are starting to 'ration' vegetables due to the recently-announced shortage caused by unusually-cold weather in Spain.
UK stores are being forced to import their greens from the west coast of the USA and from Egypt as Spain, one of their main suppliers along with Italy, has only produced a fraction of the normal quantity because of plummeting temperatures which even brought snow to Mediterranean beaches.
Lettuce – particularly iceberg, courgettes, pepper, cabbage and broccoli are the most scarce at present, and British shoppers have been uploading photos of empty shelves on social networks.
Tesco says: “Due to the poor climate in Spain, we are experiencing a shortage of iceberg and other varieties of lettuce. To ensure there is enough to go round, we are limiting purchases to three items per person.”
Morrisons has posted a notice limiting consumers to two lettuces per person, whilst customers have complained on Twitter that iceberg lettuce in Sainsbury's has shot up by 40 pence to 1.40 pounds – about 46 cents, to €1.63 – per unit in just a couple of months.
Spain supplies over half the UK's vegetables in winter, considerably more than Italy, Greece and Turkey together.
Spanish producers' association FEPEX has warned that the situation, which is due to force majeur and out of farmers' and exporters' control, could continue until at least the beginning of April, especially in the case of leafy vegetables grown 'in the open air' as opposed to in greenhouses or under plastic.
Endives, spinach – widely consumed in Spain and much more so than in the UK, with spinach pastries in bakery shops being a very popular snack – and lettuce are particularly affected.
Spanish supermarket consumers are also seeing price hikes in vegetables and salad ingredients as a result of the freezing temperatures, and wholesalers warn this could continue to be the case until at least the spring.
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