Morrisons and Waitrose short of peppers after cold snap in Spain

British supermarkets source peppers exclusively from Spain during the winter months. Credit: Pexels

Some UK supermarkets have run out of peppers after a cold snap in Europe led to a shortage.

Unseasonably cold weather in Spain slowed down the growing of peppers, leading to Morrisons limiting purchases to two per customer.

The supermarket said it was hoping to lift the cap in the next week or so because supplies were improving.

Waitrose has also been hit by supply problems. On its website, a wide range of peppers are sold out, including sweet peppers, Romano peppers and single red, yellow and orange peppers.

Waitrose said it was working hard with suppliers to get a full range back on shelves and expected stock levels to stabilise in the coming weeks as the UK moved into its growing season.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC), which represents over 200 major businesses, stressed the pepper shortage is not widespread and that only a few retailers have been impacted.

Andrew Opie, Director of Food & Sustainability at the BRC, said: “Difficult weather conditions in the South of Europe disrupted harvest for some fruit and vegetables including peppers.

"A few stores have implemented temporary limits on how much customers can buy to ensure availability for everyone. However, availability should improve for those impacted in the coming weeks as we enter UK growing season."

British supermarkets source peppers exclusively from Spain during the winter months.

Supermarkets were forced to ration a range of fruit and vegetables earlier this year due to poor weather in Europe and Africa leading to shortages.

Shoppers started seeing shortages of tomatoes in February, with retailers saying a combination of bad weather and related transport issues in north Africa and Europe were causing significant supply problems.

Empty tomato shelves at a Waitrose store Credit: Peter Clifton/PA

The shortages spread to other products, leaving shelves bare of fresh produce items including cucumbers, peppers and lettuce.

Tesco, Aldi and Lidl limited purchases of peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers to three items per person, while Morrisons set a limit of two per customer on tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce and peppers.

Production problems in Morocco began in January with unusually cold night temperatures affecting tomato ripening.

Supplies from Britain’s other major winter source, Spain, were also badly affected by weather.

At the time, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) said shortages of some fruit and vegetables in UK supermarkets could be “the tip of the iceberg”.

Deputy president Tom Bradshaw said a reliance on imports had left the UK vulnerable to “shock weather events”.

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