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UK Government: Food supply chain ‘can handle’ disruption to fruit and veg supplies

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The UK Government has called the country’s food supply chain “highly resilient”, saying it can handle the current disruption to fruit and vegetable supplies. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Supermarkets in the UK are currently experiencing a shortage of some fresh produce due to extreme weather conditions in southern Spain and North Africa, which are disrupting the harvest season. ‌

​S‌‌‌hoppers in Gedling borough have reported seeing empty shelves ‌‌‌in some local supermarket fruit and veg sections.

On Tuesday, Asda and Morrisons began to ration the sale of certain items such as tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, and cucumbers, while Aldi and Tesco are reportedly also planning to put restrictions in place. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

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The shortages have been attributed to recent poor weather conditions in North Africa and Spain, which have disrupted the production of certain imported vegetables. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The UK Government has said that supermarkets are “adept at managing supply chain issues” and are working with farmers to ensure customers have access to a wide range of fresh produce. ‌

​A spokesperson for the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has stated that the country’s food supply chain is “highly resilient” and can cope with such disruption. ‌

​“We understand public concerns around the supply of fresh vegetables. However, the UK has a highly resilient food supply chain and is well-equipped to deal with disruption.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“We remain in close contact with suppliers, who are clear that current issues relating to the availability of certain fruits and vegetables were predominantly caused by poor weather in Spain and North Africa where they are produced,” the spokesperson said. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

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Defra said: “The government recognises the challenges farmers face due to global pressures on input costs, such as feed, fuel, and fertiliser, and Defra has taken several steps to support the agriculture industry. ” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“This includes removing tariffs on maize imports from the United States, which is a key ingredient in animal feed, improving the compensation scheme for farmers affected by avian influenza, and expanding the seasonal workers visas for the horticulture sector to 45,000 to ensure they have the labour they need. The government is also supporting energy bills through the Energy Bills Relief Scheme.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“We also understand the difficulties facing the egg industry and are continuing to work with the industry to monitor the egg market.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“We want all farmers to receive a fair price for their products and are committed to tackling any contractual unfairness that might exist in the agri-food supply chain,” the spokesperson added. ‌

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