Tesco and Aldi have joined Asda and Morrisons in introducing purchase limits on certain fresh produce items.  

Both Tesco and Aldi, two of the UK’s biggest supermarkets, have introduced temporary buying limits of three items per customer on tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers as a precautionary measure.

Bournemouth Echo: Three item limits are being paced in some fruit and vegetable in Aldi and TescoThree item limits are being paced in some fruit and vegetable in Aldi and Tesco (Image: PA)

Adverse weather conditions in the south of Europe and northern Africa have caused supply issues of some fresh produce resulting in a shortage in supermarkets across the UK.

The shortage is set to last a few weeks.

A Tesco spokesperson said that they were working hard with its suppliers to ensure a good supply of vegetables for customers in light of temporary supply challenges on some lines due to adverse weather conditions abroad.

Bournemouth Echo: Aldi has joined Tesco, Asda and Morrisons in introducing purchase limits on certain items.Aldi has joined Tesco, Asda and Morrisons in introducing purchase limits on certain items. (Image: PA)

Major UK supermarkets introduce purchase limits on peppers, tomatoes and more fresh produce

An Aldi spokeswoman added: “We are limiting purchases of peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes to three units per person to ensure that as many customers as possible can buy what they need.”

The initial shortage started with tomatoes and has now expanded to include items like peppers and cucumbers.

READ MORE: Why are tomatoes in short supply? Morrisons and Tesco face shortage

Asda has introduced a customer limit of three on tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, lettuce, salad bags, broccoli, cauliflower and raspberries, and Morrisons has set a limit of two items per customer across tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce and peppers.

Other supermarkets are understood to be considering similar temporary measures.

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 the 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.

“In the meantime, some stores are introducing temporary limits on the number of products customers can buy to ensure availability for everyone.”

Bournemouth Echo: Supermarkets are being hit by fruit and vegetable supply shortagesSupermarkets are being hit by fruit and vegetable supply shortages (Image: PA)

According to the Press Association (PA), Environment Secretary, Therese Coffey told farmers “we can’t control the weather in Spain” when confronted with the news that supermarkets were limiting sales of fruit and vegetables at the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) conference in Birmingham on Wednesday.

In her speech to delegates, Therese Coffey stressed the need for biosecurity but left the conference hall before discussing the supermarket shortages.

PA understands retailers believe the problems stem from poor yields on the continent and north Africa, and that supplies will improve in the coming days or weeks.

Growers and suppliers in Morocco have had to contend with cold temperatures, heavy rain, flooding and cancelled ferries over the past three to four weeks – all of which have affected the volume of fruit reaching Britain.

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

Producers locally have also reported having to cut back on their use of greenhouses due to higher electricity prices.

However, UK producers are beginning to move into their growing season, which is expected to ease the longer-term situation as retailers also look to alternatives to produce from Spain and northern Africa.

President of the National Farmers' Union, Minette Batters, spoke to BBC Breakfast on Wednesday morning about the issue and said something needed to be done.

She said: “The more we face shortages, the more it will drive food inflation.

“We’ve got to come up with a way of making sure we can keep producing what the nation needs.

“We’ve got 70 million people in this country, it’s an island nation, food security needs to be taken really seriously.”