Retailers warn shortage of tomatoes will grow in the UK

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Aisles that are usually full of colourful, fresh produce now look rather sad and empty as the nation contends with a vegetable shortage.

Adverse weather conditions over in Spain and North Africa, where numerous UK supermarkets source a lot of their fruit and veg from, have had a detrimental impact on stock levels.

This has led some stores to introduce a limit on the amount of vegetables that customers can buy while the shortage continues. Currently it seems that these supply issues are looking to last for a couple more weeks at least.

Popping down to his local Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Aldi in Canterbury, Kent Live reporter Sam Honey went to investigate the impact for himself.

This is what he found:

I know I was rather confused when I did my big shop at the start of the week and saw just how bare the fruit and veg section of my local Lidl looked compared to normal.

It immediately threw my mind back to the start of the pandemic when we as a nation got a little carried away with our weekly shops, to put it nicely – at least I could still get toilet paper this time around.


Heading into Tesco, I had a feeling I was about to be greeted with some rather barren-looking shelves and my suspicions were largely accurate. While stocks of some produce were still coping well, with items like corn and most fruit in abundance, others really were in short supply.

As I expected, the number of tomatoes on offer was very low, with cherry tomatoes being the only variety that were somewhat well-stocked. Cucumbers were another item that seemed to be low in quality, with many empty trays sat upon the shelves.

Peppers again seemed to have been hit harshly, with red peppers boasting the strongest numbers while other varieties were far more scarce. Overall the impact of the shortage was very apparent in Tesco so probably not your best if you’re planning a vegetable curry this week.


I’ll be honest, I did not have high hopes for Aldi when I walked as it seemed to be one of the supermarket names that cropped up the most in discussions around the veg shortage. Once again, my hunch was right and this was the supermarket of the three that looked as though it had been hit the hardest.

Tomato stocks were all but gone completely and I only saw a handful of packs left remaining on the shelves. Again, cucumber stocks seemed rather sad, aside from the large cucumbers which for some reason it seemed no one wanted as a substitute.

This was the store that definitely had the lowest amount of peppers too, with none of the shelves that I could see during my visit. Stocks of other products were also dwindling, such as spinach and mushrooms, while potatoes and onions remained in high supply.


The final stop on my supermarket tour was Sainsbury’s Local which I was feeling a little more optimistic about given that it was a smaller shop that was a little further away. However, even in a smaller shop, the impact of the shortage was massively noticeable.

The reduced stock of tomatoes and peppers was clear to see almost as soon as I walked through the door. As before in the other supermarkets, supplies of potatoes, onions and most fruits seemed to be holding up rather well.

Meanwhile, other products were considerably lower in stock than I expected, with cucumber trays once again proving much emptier than normal. While the shortage continues, it becomes rather clear that no supermarket is safe from empty produce shelves and it seems your chances of getting the veg you need will be just as good no matter which shop you head to.

Let’s just hope nothing goes wrong with the toilet paper supplies. No one wants to go through that again.

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