Tomato shortages - Kent importer blames Europe's weather as shoppers face empty shelves

  • ITV News Meridian's Abigail Bracken reports from Aylesford, Kent

Shoppers in the South East have been facing a shortage of tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers and some supermarkets have empty shelves.

A Kent grower and importer of fresh fruit and vegetables says that the unusually cold weather in southern Europe is causing the problem - as well as spiralling prices.

Ed Gray is a Director of Watts Farms, based in Aylesford, and says it's been too cold to grow.

He said: "Peppers are normally sort of £8 to £10 a box, now they're £25. The yellow ones but the red as well. Green's not as bad, but it's just affecting so many different products.

"Cucumbers are particularly difficult as well. They're sort of 60 and £70 a box right now, these are really really high prices compared to normal prices and that's because availability isn't there."

Two supermarkets, Asda and Morrisons, have announced that from Wednesday (22 February) they will start rationing some fruit and vegetables, including tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers.

However Tom Holder, from the British Retail Consortium, says the shortages will not last long.

He said: "Supermarkets are looking for alternative supplies to tide them over before we come into British growing season, where we will start seeing a lot more British produce.

"There may be a few gaps in the coming weeks, but we are expecting that to go away soon."