Asda and Morrisons to ration vegetables and salad items, including tomatoes, as stock falls

Asda and Morrisons are limiting the number of fruit and vegetables customers can buy due to a shortage in certain products

Asda is to ration salad items, fruit and vegetables, including tomatoes, amid dwindling fresh produce supplies.

Asda has introduced a customer limit of three on tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, lettuce, salad bags, broccoli, cauliflower and raspberries.

Morrisons said it would be introducing limits of two items per customer across tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, and peppers from Wednesday.

Other supermarkets are understood to be considering similar temporary measures.

The move comes as UK supermarkets face a shortage of tomatoes after bad weather and other issues in Europe and Africa disrupted supplies which have resulted in empty fresh produce boxes in some stores.

An Asda spokesman said: “Like other supermarkets, we are experiencing sourcing challenges on some products that are grown in southern Spain and north Africa.

“We have introduced a temporary limit of three of each product on a very small number of fruit and vegetable lines, so customers can pick up the products they are looking for.”

Over the weekend, social media users uploaded pictures from supermarkets showing empty fruit and vegetable boxes.

British Growers Association CEO Jack Ward told ITV News the empty shelves were the "tip of the iceberg" as high energy costs, bad weather and low returns hit production in the UK and overseas.

Produce such as cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers are grown in heated greenhouses in winter in the UK making them very energy intensive.

Lea Valley Growers Association (LVGA) secretary Lee Stiles said supermarkets had opted instead to import cheaper fresh produce from countries such as Spain and Morocco, where production has been hit by bad weather and transport disruption.

Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, which represents UK supermarkets, said: “Difficult weather conditions in the south of Europe and northern Africa have disrupted harvest for some fruit and vegetables including tomatoes and peppers.

“While disruption is expected to last a few weeks, supermarkets are adept at managing supply chain issues and are working with farmers to ensure that customers are able to access a wide range of fresh produce.”

Earlier, National Farmers' Union president Minette Batters told the union's annual conference “the clock is ticking” for farmers and growers facing rising costs, avian flu, labour shortages and climate change.

Retailers and wholesalers have had to pay more for tomatoes, peppers and salad Credit: Alamy/PA

She said the number of cucumbers and tomatoes grown in the UK is expected to fall to its lowest level since records began as farmers and growers battle high energy costs and low returns.

Costs in agriculture have risen almost 50% since 2019 and UK egg production has fallen to its lowest level in nine years, she said.

Speaking on Tuesday, Ms Batters said climate change was also having an impact on domestic farming.

"The extraordinary temperatures we experienced in July topped the previous record by almost a degree and a half," she said.

“While many parts of the country have experienced huge amounts of rainfall recently, impacting farming operations over autumn and winter, some counties still remain in official drought status.

“The clock is ticking. It’s ticking for our planet, as climate change necessitates urgent, concerted action to reduce emissions and protect our environment."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know