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Waitrose hit by middle-class vegetable shortage

The middle classes may have survived the first wave of Britain’s fruit and vegetable shortages, but a scarcity of artichokes at Waitrose could reignite panic.

Shoppers seeking out globe artichokes for their summer dishes have been met with disappointment in recent weeks after unpredictable weather disrupted supplies.

The retailer told the Telegraph that British artichokes are unavailable because crops have been “temporarily impacted by the unseasonable and fluctuating weather conditions”.

“Sudden hot weather earlier this summer impacted the quality of plants – followed by colder conditions which prevented further growth,” a Waitrose spokesman said.

Work is underway to solve the shortage, and Waitrose is hopeful they will return to supermarket shelves in the coming weeks.

The grocer noted that jarred and tinned artichokes are also still available.

Demand for artichokes soared during the pandemic as shoppers stuck at home sought to recreate Mediterranean-style meals, such as Ottolenghi’s boiled version with Pink peppercorn aioli.

Lucy Broughton, a vegetable buyer for Waitrose, said in 2020: “Artichokes have a clean, fresh and earthy taste and as customers become more aware of their versatility, they are in turn becoming more popular.”

Their absence from shelves this month marks the latest in a series of fresh fruit and vegetable shortages across the UK.

Retailers were forced to ration tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers earlier this year because of bad weather in Morocco and Spain, where a large portion of the UK’s fresh fruits and vegetables are sourced.

Experts warned at the time that the UK’s reliance on exports could leave it vulnerable to future shortages of fruit and vegetables.

Liz Webster, head of campaign group Save British Farming, told The Telegraph in February: “We live on an island in a particularly difficult climate with a very short growing season. If we don’t have any food security in a world which is chaotic, we know what happens because it happened in the last two World Wars – we are exposed to a food crisis.”


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