Some joked on social media when Ursula von der Leyen, the head of the European Union, visited Britain last week: Will you please bring us some tomatoes?
individuals in the UK. for the previous two weeks, due to a lack of fresh veggies, have been forced to restrict salad essentials like tomatoes and cucumbers. Several stores have empty new produce shelves, and most supermarkets have limited how many salad bags or bell peppers people may purchase.
Authorities claim the recent terrible weather in Spain and North Africa is to blame for the issue, adding that the shortages could last up to a month.
However, many individuals were quick to note that other European nations don’t appear to be facing the same difficulties.
The British government has rejected the argument that Brexit is to blame. Therese Coffey, the environment secretary, suggested that customers “cherish” British goods and eat more turnips instead of ethnic cuisine, but this didn’t go over well with consumers.
Although a more complex set of factors, such as climate change, the U.K.’s overreliance on imports during the winter, skyrocketing energy costs, and the competitive pricing strategies at British supermarkets, are more salient explanations, experts agree that Brexit likely contributed to the food shortage.
Consider some elements that went into what one European broadcaster called the “vegetable debacle” in Britain.
Two leading tomato exporters to the U.K. had frigid temperatures in Spain and heavy rain and flooding in Morocco, respectively.
They are recognized as the primary source of the shortfall and have caused low yields.
Farmers in Spain blame the recent frigid temperatures for the previous year’s record-breaking hot and dry conditions.
According to FEPEX, a group that represents Spanish fruit and vegetable exporters, production levels of tomatoes, cucumbers, and eggplants decreased by over 20% during the first three weeks of February compared to the same period in 2022 in the southern province of Almeria, which produces 40% of Spain’s fresh vegetable exports. The gang said that things were getting better.
The heat and drought in Europe have impacted Germany’s vegetable harvest since last year.
Similarly, the Netherlands, another prominent tomato exporter, has seen a decline in output due to growers finding it challenging to justify the cost of putting on the LED lights in their greenhouses this winter due to increasing energy costs associated with Russia’s conflict in Ukraine.
British growers of vegetables. report having been compelled to leave their greenhouses empty as well.
Compared to prior winters, Richard Diplock, managing director at the Green House Growers in southern England, claimed his energy expenditures are around six times greater.
“We decided to wait until February to start planting because we couldn’t afford to heat the greenhouses in December and January. Many tomato growers are in a situation like this, he said.
Some EU news sites indulged in a little Brexit schadenfreude due to the shortages in Britain and the contrasting images of full vegetable shelves in stores in mainland Europe.
According to experts, Brexit-related costs and additional red tape have contributed, but they emphasize that it is not the leading cause.