Fruit and veg shortages: Greengrocer says he has ‘queues out front’

Chris Ennis, 28, who works at Reg The Veg greengrocer, has seen a huge surge in customers over the past week (Image: SWNS)

A greengrocer who said he’s snapping up fruit and veg supermarkets he won’t pay for now has “queues out front”.

Thomas Hagon, who runs greengrocer Reg The Veg in Clifton, Bristol, said customers are looking for tomatoes and peppers as they can’t get them in larger stores.

He claims the products are “available to buy in supermarkets” but the price is too high for them – but smaller shops like him are ready to take the hit.

“We had shortages about three weeks ago due to availability and low quantities, and supermarkets were still supplying vegetables at low prices,” said the 39-year-old.

“It’s gotten to a point where supermarkets can’t buy it at the right price now because it’s gone up so much.

“It’s available, they just don’t pay the money for it.

‘Where we can, and we can then supply our customers and pass on the slight price increase.’


Tell customers to look for tomatoes and peppers as they can’t get them in larger stores (Image: SWNS)


The Clifton, Bristol store has been forced to raise its prices – but customers are willing to pay (Image: SWNS)

Bad weather in Spain and Africa has been blamed for the shortages that UK growers fear could continue into May.

Thomas said the wholesale price has almost doubled – averaging at £15 before and £30 now.

“In some areas we have had to raise our own prices – cherry vine tomatoes are now £9.99 per kilo, which is around double the normal price,” he added.

“We tell our customers that these peppers or tomatoes, for example, can be quite expensive, but they are happy to pay.

“Obviously nationally it’s very difficult because of the quantities that supermarkets are getting, but when they say £25 or £30 for a wholesale delivery and they’re not paying for it.”

He warned that to solve the problem, supermarkets could end up having to charge customers more.

Empty vegetable and salad shelves at Filton Asda in Bristol as sales of fruit and vegetables were restricted by most of the country's largest supermarkets, Tesco, Asda, Aldi and Morrisons. The UK Government has said this is largely due to bad weather in Europe and Africa. Bristol. February 23, 2023.

Supermarket shelves have been left empty and major stores have had to start rationing fruit and veg (Image: SWNS)

Thomas added: “If there’s more competition from other European countries supplying produce, prices will come down – they’re always high at this time of year, right now they’re just exceptionally high.

“We saw the cold weather in Morocco. They have snow – it’s crazy.

“We’ve gotten used to eating what we want to eat year-round, so it can come as a bit of a shock when things get a little tight.”

Other greengrocers said they had no choice but to double their prices, too.

The government said yesterday the supply problems should be resolved within a month.

Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey told the House of Commons: “My officials believe that after discussions with industry and retailers we expect the situation to continue for around two to four weeks.

“It is important that we try to ensure that we are given alternative sourcing options. That is why the department is already in discussion with the dealers.

“That is why there will also be further talks, led by ministers, so that we can try to get over this and avoid similar situations in the future.

“While we cannot control the weather, it is important that we try to ensure supply does not continue to be as frustrated as these unusual weather events have been.”

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Justin Scaccy

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