Tomatoes are the latest food staple to suffer from supply chain challenges

Tomatoes are the latest food staple to suffer from supply chain and production challenges with shortages and price rises expected to hit UK supermarkets soon.

A cocktail of supply issues in both the UK and abroad will see shoppers facing tomato shortages in the coming months.

UK production – which is reliant on greenhouses being heated to 20 degrees celsius – has been hit by soaring energy costs, while export supplies from key territories Spain and the Netherlands have also been tightened.

The British Tomato Growers’ Association (BTGA) said that “several” key tomato farmers in the UK had reduced or delayed planting their crop this year.

Read more: Supermarkets ‘suffocating businesses’ as egg farmers warn of shortages

The UK imports about 80% of its tomatoes, mostly from the Netherlands and Spain. Many growers in the two countries had either planted late or not at all.

“Wholesale gas prices impact all growers and tomato availability is a global issue,” BTGA spokeswoman Julie Woolley told The Grocer.

Mintec analysis shows that tomato prices have already risen in response to these challenges. The average wholesale price of cherry tomatoes in the UK rose by 58% year-on-year in March, reaching an average of £3.83/kg.

Lea Valley Growers Association secretary Lee Stiles revealed that many tomato growers have not planted at all this year, adding that “British produce will be down significantly on previous years”.

Mintec expects supplies to remain limited in the coming months, potentially resulting in further price increases in the short term.

British supplies are also expected to increase as the weather improves.

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