Availability of a number of key seasonal products is starting to dwindle as large swathes of the UK continue to swelter in the summer heatwave.
With UK temperatures about 10°C above average for this time of year, the challenging growing conditions are leading to supply shortages and price hikes.
Lettuce has been one of the worst hit crops so far, with the unusually high temperatures boosting demand for leafy salads while simultaneously halting growth of the UK crop, according to the British Leafy Salad Growers.
“When the temperature rises above 28°C, salad consumption increases by 40%. At the same time, salad just stops growing,” spokesman Dieter Lloyd told Convenience Store.
“The hot weather has affected our growers in all the major areas and we are highly likely to see shortages of the UK crop. Going forward we’re likely to see yields of potatoes and also peas down, too,” he added.
British carrot growers are also warning of shortages as a result of the lowest yields for decades, with the carrot “crisis” likely to continue for up to 11 months, Rodger Hobson, chairman of the British Carrot Growers Association said.
“The carrots have just stopped growing and are wilting in the fields. It is almost inevitable that the price in the shops will go up,” he added.
Worcestershire Costcutter and Simply Fresh retailer Chaz Chahal said he was starting to notice the impact. “We have noticed the prices starting to creep up on salads and also carrots with talk of shortages on the way,” he said.
Charles Brading, owner of Vic’s Stores on the Isle of Wight, is also experiencing shortages of locally-grown soft fruits such as cherries and strawberries. “The cherry season has finished two weeks early. Locally-grown strawberries are also in short supply and prices are rising steeply. On the flip side, sales of fresh meat are soaring and soft drinks and water are up more than 50%,” he added.
“The lettuce shortage is definitely having an impact. We’ve had to substitute Iceberg lettuces for Little Gem as we’re struggling to source them.”
Rav Garcha, three Nisa stores in the Midlands
“We have struggled with several items over the past few weeks due to a combination of the World Cup, Wimbledon and the heatwave. Strawberry prices are extremely high.”
Richard Benn, Simply Fresh office manager