A portrait of England’s empty cupboards

March 31, 2023 8:14

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Photojournalist

British supermarkets have been short of fresh vegetables since the end of February. Shortage will continue till May. The reasons are many (‘Brexit’, bad weather, energy costs), but there is no shortage of turnips

March 31, 2023 8:14

Diego Miranda

Photographs

Photojournalist

A Saturday, February 18, warning messages started circulating in a WhatsApp group on my street. “Have you gone to the supermarket today? Looks like we’ve gone back to the days of epidemic (shortage) toilet paper. Salads, nothing. Tomatoes, nothing. Vegetables, nothing.” A few hours later, social networks begin to fill with similar reports and photos from around the country: they show empty boxes and deserted shops in the vegetable sections of British markets. My nearest Waitrose supermarket put up signs apologizing for the shortage: “Southern Spain and Due to adverse weather conditions in North Africa, these products are temporarily out of stock.”

The problem is common. Major supermarket chains begin to ration the least amount of vegetables they can find. At Tesco and Aldi, customers cannot buy more than three units (or packs) of tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce. Supermarket Morrisons, which has 497 stores nationwide, adds peppers to the list and applies a stricter limit of two units per head. The Asda network is expanding its offering of rations to broccoli, cauliflower, raspberries and pre-packaged salads. Some supermarkets, the country’s market leader Tesco, use images of oranges or cucumbers to cover deserted stores. Tomato shortage is severe. Social media adopted the hashtags #tomatogate and #saladwars.

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