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Supermarkets begin to drop limits on fresh produce

Some supermarkets have begun to drop customer limits on certain fresh fruit and vegetables as supply issues begin to ease.

Asda confirmed it had removed its limit of three on cucumbers, lettuce, salad bags, broccoli, cauliflower and raspberries - but has left restrictions of three on tomatoes and peppers.


The supermarket said availability had improved as expected, and supplies of tomatoes and peppers were also expected to return to normal within a couple of weeks.


Morrisons also removed its restriction on cucumbers, but kept its limit of two items per customer on tomatoes, lettuce and peppers.


Shoppers began to share their frustration about shortages of tomatoes around 20 February, with supermarkets responding to say a combination of bad weather and related transport problems in north Africa and Europe were causing significant supply problems.


The shortage soon began affecting other products, leaving shelves without a number of fresh produce items such as cucumbers, peppers and lettuces.


Tesco, Aldi and Lidl limited the purchase of peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers to three items per person.


Sky News has contacted Tesco, Aldi, and Lidl for comment.


Unusually cold night-time temperatures affected tomato ripening in Morocco in January, with growers and suppliers also having to contend with heavy rain, flooding and cancelled ferries - all of which affected the volume of fruit reaching Britain.


Supplies from Britain's other major winter source, Spain, were also badly affected by weather, with issues compounded by ferry cancellations due to bad weather.


Producers locally also reported having to cut back on their use of greenhouses due to higher electricity prices.


Environment Secretary Theresa Coffey suggested British consumers should eat more turnips instead of imported food when asked about the shortages, leading to mocking headlines like: "Let them eat turnips".


The National Farmers' Union (NFU) warned shortages could become more common if the government does not secure domestic supplies.


"We will always rely on imports to some degree for produce we can't grow here, or to ensure diversity of supply," NFU deputy president Tom Bradshaw told Sky News.


But "as global volatility increases, it's imperative the government focuses on building resilient domestic food supply chains", he added.



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