Farmers warn tomato and cucumber shortage is set to hit supermarkets

Vegetables in a supermarket
Supply problems experienced during the pandemic could be back for a range of crops and meat products (Picture: Bloomburg)

Customers should get used to seeing empty shelves in supermarkets unless the country starts taking food security seriously.

That’s the stark message from the national farming union, which has warned the UK is ‘sleepwalking’ into a crisis. 

People are already noticing a shortage of eggs but that ‘could just be the start’ without urgent action.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) has called for emergency intervention from the government to prop up struggling producers.

Soaring costs for fuel, fertiliser and feed costs have left farms up and down the country struggling to stay afloat.

Supplies of many crops is down but there is particular concern over tomatoes, which are being produced in lower quantities than at any point since record began in the 1980s.

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Poultry and meat farmers are all feeling the pinch, while energy intensive crops like cucumbers and pears could also soon be at a premium. 

Union president Minette Batters said: ‘Shoppers up and down the country have for decades had a guaranteed supply of high-quality affordable food produced to some of the highest animal welfare, environmental and food safety standards in the world.

Empty egg shelves
Some supermarkets have imposed limits on how many eggs customers can buy amid a shortage (Picture: Shutterstock)

‘But British food is under threat… at a time when global volatility is threatening the stability of the world’s food production, food security and energy security.

‘I fear the country is sleepwalking into further food supply crises, with the future of British fruit and vegetable supplies in trouble.’

The government has sought to allay fears of a looming food shortage, saying its security policy is ‘built on supply from diverse sources’ which includes imports.

Several supermarket have introduced a temporary buying limit of eggs per customer as a precautionary measure amid the impact on supply of rising costs and bird flu.

The rate of food price inflation is expected to reach a peak year-on-year of between 17% and 19% in early 2023, the Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD) earlier annouced.

This is up from its previous forecast of a peak of between 14% and 16%.

Downing Street on Tuesday said that the public should be ‘reassured’ by the UK’s ‘large and highly resilient food supply chain’ and ‘strong food security’.


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