Major UK supermarkets have introduced a customer limit on purchases of fruit and vegetables amid dwindling stocks of fresh produce.
Asda has imposed a limit of three on each of the following items: tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, lettuce, salad bags, broccoli, cauliflower and raspberries.
Meanwhile, Tesco and Aldi have introduced limits of three per customer on sales of tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers.
And Morrisons has set a limit of two on cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce and peppers.
It comes as people have been sharing photographs on social media of empty shelves in the vegetable aisle of their local supermarket.
An Asda spokesman said: “Like other supermarkets, we are experiencing sourcing challenges on some products that are grown in southern Spain and north Africa.
“We have introduced a temporary limit of three of each product on a very small number of fruit and vegetable lines, so customers can pick up the products they are looking for.”
A combination of bad weather and transport problems in Africa and Europe has seen UK supermarket shelves left bare of tomatoes, as well as dwindling stocks of some other fresh produce.
The current shortage of tomatoes affecting UK supermarkets is widening to other fruit and vegetables and is likely to last weeks.
It is understood that retailers believe the problems stem from poor yields on the continent and north Africa, and that supplies will improve in the coming days or weeks.
Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, which represents UK supermarkets, said: “Difficult weather conditions in the south of Europe and northern Africa have disrupted harvest for some fruit and vegetables including tomatoes and peppers.
“While disruption is expected to last a few weeks, supermarkets 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.”
Growers and suppliers in Morocco have had to contend with cold temperatures, heavy rain, flooding and cancelled ferries over the past three to four weeks – all of which have affected the volume of fruit reaching Britain.
Production problems in Morocco began in January with unusually cold night-time temperatures that affected tomato ripening.
These were compounded by ferry cancellations due to bad weather, hitting lorry deliveries.
Supplies from Britain’s other major winter source, Spain, have also been badly affected by weather.
According to Coexphal – the Association of Organisations of Fruit and Vegetable Producers of the province of Almería, one of the biggest tomato-producing regions in Spain – the volume of tomatoes sold in February was lower than in the same period in 2022.
Cucumbers were down 21 per cent, while peppers and aubergine production had fallen by 25 per cent.
Producers have also reported having to cut back on their use of greenhouses due to higher electricity prices.
STV News is now on WhatsApp
Get all the latest news from around the countryFollow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp
Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country