Lettuce shortage: Is this just the tip of the iceberg?

As supermarkets ration lettuces, what's next off the shopping list?

First it was courgettes and aubergines, now lettuces are growing scarce on supermarket shelves – what can shoppers expect next?

Well according to experts, cucumbers, tomatoes and citrus fruits could all be off the menu as a result of poor weather conditions, with shortages possibly continuing into May.

  • What is growing thin on the ground?

As a result of bad weather in growing countries, other seasonal fruit and veg affected are:

  • Spinach

  • Broccoli

  • Cucumbers

  • Tomatoes

  • Oranges

In fact, only peppers appear to have remained more or less plentiful.

Anthony Gardiner, marketing director for fruit and veg supplier G's Fresh, said the problem was already being reflected in the price of fresh produce and was unlikely to ease up until late about May.

"These things are cyclical...so you'll probably find courgettes become more expensive again in a few weeks," he told ITV News.

  • Okay, but is it a crisis?

Well... #lettuce has been trending on Twitter, if that counts.

Meanwhile, some supermarkets have begun rationing lettuce, and earlier in the month shoppers declared a "courgette crisis" while the price of other staple vegetables has been on the rise.

  • What kind of prices are we talking?

Ian Blair, sales manager at fruit and veg importer Fortuna Frutos, said the price of lettuce was now beginning to come down, but that farmers "are saying things are still tight".

"Iceberg lettuce is around but it's pretty tight. Last week you were looking at £14 or £15 a box for Iceberg. Today we're looking at £10 or £11," he told ITV News.

Poor weather conditions have led to shortages of stable vegetables Credit: PA
  • Why has this happened?

The veg shortages have been caused by poor weather conditions in Spain and Italy, which supply much of the produce in Britain's supermarkets during the winter months.

The Murcia region of Spain – which supplies nearly 75% of Spain’s lettuce exports and represents 13% of all the lettuces grown in the EU –was hit by rain and freezing temperatures at the start of the year after months of drought.

To tackle the shortages buyers are looking elsewhere,importing from the US and Egypt, but the added distance makes the produce more expensive.

  • How long before I get my greens?

The British season will only kick-in once April gets underway, and poor weather could extend that into May.

After that supplies should become more plentiful, but it still means months of more expensive fresh fruit and veg.