Vegetable shortage hits the U.K.

London –

Several UK supermarket chains are limiting the amount of some fresh fruit and vegetables customers can buy amid shortages attributed to bad weather in Spain and Morocco.

Tesco, Britain’s largest grocery chain, said Wednesday it was temporarily restricting the purchase of tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. It follows similar moves by rival chains Aldi and Morrisons.

Empty shelves have become a political issue, with opponents of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union blaming Brexit for fruit and vegetable shortages.

But industry analysts said the main culprit was bad weather hitting crops in Spain and Morocco, the UK’s main suppliers of winter fresh produce.

Spain continues to experience unusually cold weather, Morocco experienced frosty temperatures in January, and ferries have been canceled due to bad weather over the past month. This means less agricultural products are being shipped to the UK.

Ireland, an EU member state, is a cold island like Britain, which relies on seasonal imports, but lacks some fresh vegetables.

Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, which represents UK supermarkets, said: “Difficult weather conditions in southern Europe and Harvesting of some fruits and vegetables, such as peppers, is prevented.

Opie said the disruption was expected to continue for “several weeks.”

“Supermarkets are adept at managing supply chain issues and are working with farmers to ensure customers have access to a wide range of fresh produce,” he said.

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