Bad Weather Leads to UK “Courgette Crisis”, Supermarkets Hike Up Prices

dbc5ccf4-ce95-498e-bc3b-e741eaa40b32articleimage.jpg

07 Feb 2017 --- Rain, frost and snow in Spain have resulted in a shortage of courgettes, broccoli and iceberg lettuce. Prices have surged, and supermarkets are now rationing the scarcest produce. A spate of poor weather in southern Spain – where most of the UK’s courgettes come from – has led to failed crops and a blip in the courgette supply chain.

Consumers across the UK have been complaining about a lack of courgettes in supermarkets and online retailers at a time of peak demand from consumers keen to pursue new year resolutions to eat more greens.

Wholesale prices for courgettes, a staple of the Mediterranean diet, have more than tripled after unusually cold and wet weather in Spain where most of the European supplies are grown.

Jordi Vorderman, the UK sales manager at Dutch vegetable supplier Valstar Holland, said prices had quadrupled since the summer. He said: “The main issue is that supplies are low because of cold nights in Spain and Italy. The cold affects courgettes a lot.”

The biggest share of fresh vegetables eaten in the UK in winter comes from Murcia and Valencia in southern Spain, but the region’s crops have been hit hard by unseasonal weather, leading to courgette prices rising four-fold in two weeks. Cucumbers and green beans have also been affected by the bad weather.

Heavy rain in mid-December ruined half the lettuce harvest in Murcia. Last month the rain was followed by frost and snow which caused some vegetable lorries to become stranded. Some Spanish growers have reportedly flown in supplies from the US in order to fulfil contracts with grocers.

Shoppers afflicted by the “courgette crisis” are facing further privation, as supermarket chains Morrisons and Tesco imposed restrictions on the number of lettuces that can be bought by each customer.

Tesco has introduced a three-lettuce limit on icebergs while rival Morrisons has imposed a two-lettuce limit and banned shoppers from buying more than three heads of broccoli.

The UK’s largest retailer posted signs on its salad sections which stated: “Due to continued weather problems in Spain, there is a shortage on iceberg lettuce. To protect the availability for all our customers, we are limiting bulk purchases to three per person. We apologize for any inconvenience.”

British shoppers have already been warned that shortages of courgettes, aubergines, salad and celery will continue until the spring – and they can expect to pay substantially higher prices for the stock that is available.

Tesco said the signage had been sent to all its stores but was likely to be most necessary in larger outlets in city centers and towns, where sandwich shops and restaurants were likely to try to buy large numbers of lettuces due to shortages in wholesale supplies.

However, iceberg lettuces are listed as “currently not available” on Tesco’s online shopping site, and those that are on sale have generally been imported from the US, incurring hefty air freight costs. 

Morrisons said it is rationing applied in all 492 stores across the UK and was intended “to restrict multiple sales to larger buyers such as restaurants, caterers and snack bars so that consumes are not losing out”.

Where they are still available in store, Tesco is selling icebergs for 79p ($1). The standard price before the shortages was about 50p ($0.80).

Sainsbury’s has just started selling US-grown icebergs for £1.40 ($1.73) each under the Farm Folk brand – packed by Ely-based Adventures in Food.

Related Articles

Food Ingredients News

UK: Ban sales of energy drinks to under 16s, urges Action on Sugar report

15 Dec 2017 --- A new study by campaign group Action on Sugar has revealed the sugar, calorie and caffeine content of energy drinks sold in the UK in 2015 and 2017 – and the results have reignited calls for a ban on sales to children under 16. Published in the BMJ Open by Action on Sugar based at the Queen Mary University of London, the study details how the industry has, to a certain extent reformulated some energy drinks to reduce sugar and caffeine, but the super-sized servings still remain a big problem. 

Food Ingredients News

Food made from discarded ingredients could be a big hit, according to research

13 Dec 2017 --- A new study has found the strong potential for the consumer acceptance of a new category of foods created from discarded ingredients with the latest focus on a relish made entirely from ingredients that were destined to be dumped.

Food Ingredients News

McCormick 2018 Flavor Forecast highlights adventurous global fusions

11 Dec 2017 --- McCormick & Company, Inc., has released the McCormick Flavor Forecast 2018. This year’s Flavor Forecast highlights the casual, adventurous and interactive nature of how people are eating across the globe today.

Food Ingredients News

Excessive salt levels found in popular branded UK sausages

06 Dec 2017 --- The “shocking and excessively high” amounts of salt in certain UK sausage brands has been flagged by the consumer lobby group Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH). New research conducted by Queen Mary University of London points out that by starting the day with a sausage sandwich, UK residents could be eating nearly two-thirds of an adult’s maximum daily recommended intake (6g salt) – more salt than a double cheeseburger and large fries.

Food Ingredients News

UK: Tesco biggest ever meat-free Christmas range

05 Dec 2017 --- Changing UK diets have prompted Tesco to double its vegetarian and vegan centerpiece festive food offering this year to keep pace with demand for meat-free products. 

More Articles