Tomato shortage hits British supermarkets after poor weather across Europe and Africa

21 February 2023, 06:34

Cold weather is Spain has affected crop availability, Tesco has said
Cold weather is Spain has affected crop availability, Tesco has said. Picture: Social media/Getty
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Supermarkets across Britain have been hit with a shortage of tomatoes after a wave of bad weather across Europe and Africa disrupted supply chains.

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.

Production problems in Morocco began in January with unusually cold night-time temperatures that affected tomato ripening.

Shoppers across the country have taken to social media to point out the lack of tomatoes at their local stores.

UK importers have become increasingly reliant on Morocco due to Brexit, which has affected with other tomato-producing European nations.

Spain remains a primary source of tomatoes for the UK, which has also been affected by colder weather in recent weeks.

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Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability 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, 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."

A spokesperson for the British Tomato Growers Association (BTGA) said recent shortages are “predominantly a consequence of the lack of imported product”.

“The British tomato season will soon begin and we expect significant volumes of British tomatoes on shelves by the end of March and into April 2023," they added.

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