11 March 2023

Aldi to lift restrictions on fresh produce as shortages ease

11 March 2023

Aldi said it will remove all customer limits on buying fresh produce as supply issues which led to widespread shortages begin to ease.

The supermarket joins Lidl and Asda in lifting restrictions.

Aldi said in a statement on Saturday: “From Monday (March 13), Aldi will remove all purchasing restrictions on fresh produce – including limits on tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers.”

Lidl will also lift all restrictions on fruit and veg by Monday.

Asda said it has removed limits of three on cucumbers, lettuce, salad bags, broccoli, cauliflower and raspberries, leaving restrictions of three on tomatoes and peppers.

The supermarket said availability overall has improved as expected and supplies of tomatoes and peppers are expected to be back to normal within a couple of weeks.

Shoppers started seeing shortages of tomatoes on around February 20, with retailers saying a combination of bad weather and related transport problems in north Africa and Europe were causing significant supply problems.

The shortages spread to other products, leaving shelves bare of fresh produce items including cucumbers, peppers and lettuce.

Tesco, Aldi and Lidl limited purchases of peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers to three items per person, while Morrisons set a limit of two per customer on tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce and peppers.

Production problems in Morocco began in January with unusually cold night temperatures affecting tomato ripening.

Growers and suppliers in Morocco then had to contend with heavy rain, flooding and cancelled ferries – all of which affected the volume of produce reaching Britain.

Supplies from Britain’s other major winter source, Spain, were also badly affected by weather.

These were compounded by ferry cancellations due to the weather hitting lorry deliveries.

Domestic producers also reported having to cut their use of greenhouses due to higher electricity prices.

Environment Secretary Therese Coffey made headlines when, asked about the shortages, she suggested British consumers should eat more turnips instead of imported food.

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) said shortages of some fruit and vegetables in UK supermarkets could be “the tip of the iceberg”.

Deputy president Tom Bradshaw said a reliance on imports has left the UK vulnerable to “shock weather events”.

He said the UK had “hit a tipping point” and needed to “take command of the food we produce” amid “volatility around the world” caused by the war in Europe and climate change.

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