Supermarket shelves left 'desolate' as UK hit by fruit and veg shortages
Shoppers are facing weeks of fruit and vegetable shortages in supermarkets across the UK due to poor weather in Spain and northern Africa.
Stores have been criticised for allowing their stocks to run out without sourcing replacements, with customers accusing shops of an "unacceptable" lack of planning.
Customers are being confronted with "desolate" supermarket shelves as severe shortages of tomatoes, strawberries and peppers hits the country, with all main supermarkets reporting supply issues this week.
The shortage has been caused by "difficult weather conditions" in Spain and Morocco, which have been hit by heavy rainfall, thunderstorms and snow storms.
Andrew Opie, director of food at the British Retail Consortium, said: "Difficult weather conditions in the south of Europe, and northern Africa, have disrupted harvest for some fruit and vegetables including tomatoes.
"However, retailers are adept at managing supply chain issues and are working with farmers to ensure that customers are able to access a wide range of fresh produce."
Pictures from supermarkets across the country from Devon up to Edinburgh show empty shelves on fruit and vegetable aisles.
Watch: Rationing risk as tomato shortage hits UK supermarkets
Photos also show empty Morrisons shelves, alongside a sign that say the shortage is "likely to improve within a couple of weeks".
A sign in the Gyle, Edinburgh store reads: "Availability across our tomato range has been significantly impacted by adverse weather conditions across Spain and Morocco.
"The current shortage is likely to improve within a couple of weeks."
Customers have taken to social media to complain about the shortage with one saying it is "not good enough" and just "unacceptable".
One unhappy customer said: "I'm sorry Tesco, this is not good enough in your Dalmarnock store on a Friday afternoon.
"Lots more shelves with empty boxes throughout the store.
"Rising prices are bad enough but lack of basic foodstuffs is unacceptable."
Another said: "Is there a green/red/yellow pepper shortage?
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"Been to 2-3 different supermarkets over the last few days and veg aisles look desolate, particularly salad veg."
Rising energy costs have also been cited as a reason for the shortage. According to reports, tomato growers in the UK are struggling to heat their greenhouses due to lack of funds.
Tomato production in the UK requires greenhouses to be heated to 20C. However, soaring energy prices has meant farmers have had to be a little more conservative when spending on energy, transport, fuel and equipment.
Last year, British Tomato Growers Association (BGTA) spokeswoman Julie Woolley told British retail magazine The Grocer: "Wholesale gas prices impact all growers and tomato availability is a global issue."
Dr Philip Morley, Horticulturalist and technical officer of the BTGA, has said inflation in other areas has affected supplies. He said: “Rising fuel costs has meant transportation costs are now higher. Other input costs such as seeds, fertiliser, and feed have also increased between 100 and 400%. These are on top of the health checks on seeds entering the UK to rule out plant viruses that can affect crops. Those costs are also passed on to the grower."