Food tsar blames veg shortages on UK supermarkets ‘weird competitive dynamic’

The government’s food tsar has blamed the current fruit and vegetable shortages on the “weird competitive dynamic” of UK supermarkets.

The co-founder of restaurant chain, Leon, Henry Dimbleby also advises ministers on a food strategy for England and said the lack of fresh produce available was a “market failure”.

According to reporting by The Guardian, he added that Europe was not facing these shortages as “nowhere else in the world”, has this “weird supermarket culture.”

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Last week, supermarkets including Tesco, Asda, Aldi, Lidl and Morrisons applied purchase limits across select fresh produce such as tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and onions.

Largely, this has been attributed to extrmeme weather affecting harvests in Spain and North Africa.

However, some industry experts have claimed this to be an effect of Brexit, while British farms have also suffered as many growers have had to cut back due to the rocketing costs of heating greenhouses.

Dimbleby said the worry that came with gaps of vegetables on supermarket shelves was “frustrating” as “there are much bigger structural issues that need to resolve, and definitely the government on health has very explicitly gone backwards.”

He said that it was important to focus on structural issues within the UK food system, adding that otherwise, “it’s going to get worse.”

“The UK food system is, I think, unique – I don’t know another system where the supermarkets have these fixed-price contracts with suppliers. So, basically, you have no effective market. It’s a very difficult one for the government to solve, but it does need to be resolved.”

Earlier this week, growers’ organisations warned that the cold conditions expected across the UK could further reduce the availability of crops, as the Met Office issued a yellow weather warning for large parts of Scotland and northeast England until midnight this evening (7 March).



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