British fruit and veg could be rationed this year as growers battle high energy prices
22nd February 2023
NFU president Minette Batters has called for greater support for the horticulture sector, warning that a range of British fruit and vegetables could be in short supply this year.
Ms Batters urged the government to extend the Energy and Trade Intensive Industries scheme to horticulture and poultry, which are currently excluded despite being some of farming’s most energy-dependent sectors.
Speaking to Sky News, she warned that UK growers have cut back on their use of greenhouses to grow winter crops due to very high electricity prices, and warned that a range of British vegetables are at risk of being rationed this year.
The comments come after photos of empty shelves began circulating on social media over the past few days. Morrisons and Asda have introduced a cap on the sale of certain fruits and vegetables.
From Tuesday (21st February), Asda capped the sales of items such as lettuce, peppers, tomatoes, cucumber and raspberry punnets, at three per customer – while Morrisons limited certain products to two per person.
The shortages are said to be the result of extreme weather conditions in Spain, Morocco and north Africa. In winter, the UK imports 95% of its tomatoes and 90% of lettuces, mostly from Spain and north Africa, according to the British Retail Consortium.
With record heat and prolonged drought in many parts of the world last summer, Ms Batters is quoted by Sky News as saying: “That’s an even greater need for us to take all self-sufficiency seriously and be producing more of our fruit and vegetables here, which has been the ambition that we have held for a long time.”