By Andrew Atkinson
Recent bad weather in the Vega Baja region severely hitting crops – including lettuce, courgettes and aubergines – lead to rationing in some supermarkets in Britain after the storms, flooding and snow.
With a shortage of greens between now and April, Morrisons are just one of the retailers who have put rations in place.
Data provider IRI Retail Advantage report the volumes of courgette sales slumped by £2m in January.
During winter Europe sources 80% of its fresh produce from southern Spain, including growers within the Vega Baja region – including Los Montesinos, Alicante.
Floods in Spain’s south-eastern Murcia region almost wiped out some field crops, including lettuce and broccoli.
However this week there was fields amass with newly grown lettuces in Los Montesinos, which is good news for the farmers and workers in the region, in the wake of the floods after more that two days of continuous rain last month.
Ex-pats have beamed at the plethora of greens available in Spain – at a bargain basement cost – to that of in Britain, where prices of lettuce are rising, due to the shortage.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs report a pair of Little Gem lettuces had an average market price of 86p – an increase of 30p – up from an average of 56p, almost 54% increase. In Spain it is not uncommon to get three for 1 euro.
Now shoppers in Britain are not only feeling the squeeze on their veg – costs of lemons vary – from 35p to £1 – each!
Morrisons and Tesco issued a limit on the number of items each customer can purchase – with Morrisons limiting each customer to three heads of broccoli and two iceberg lettuces – and Tesco limiting three heads of iceberg lettuce per customer.
“As a result of the Spanish harvest being very difficult this year, we have just about enough coming in to supply our customers,” said a Morrisons spokesman.
One retailer said produce from Spain and Italy is causing major problems, with Iceberg lettuces, normally £6 a box, costing £16. Aubergines, normally £6 a box now £24; and courgettes (£5 per box) now £16.80.
In Britain consumers can expect shortages of iceberg lettuce, baby spinach, mixed leaves, rocket, lollo rossa, cauliflower, broccoli, peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, lemons, and oranges.
The Spanish association of fruit and vegetable producers, FEPEX, said it expected the shortage of leafy vegetables grown outdoors, including lettuce and spinach, to continue until early April.
In the wake of the crisis sales of seeds and bulbs in Britain have increased by 272% in the first week of February, compared to the same period in 2016, as people turn to grown their own veg.