In Brief

Shoppers face lettuce rationing amid 'vegetable crisis'

Bad weather in southern Spain forces supermarkets to limit sales – and increase prices

Shoppers are facing another wave of vegetable rationing after a harvesting drought has led to supermarket putting limits on sales of iceberg lettuce and broccoli.

Tesco is stopping customers from buying more than three iceberg lettuces in a transaction, while Morrisons has set a limit of two icebergs and three heads of broccoli.

A spokeswoman for Tesco said: "This is not something we want to do but we felt we had no choice.

"We wanted to make sure that we have enough lettuces for our shoppers. In some supermarkets they are completely sold out or have nearly doubled in price."

Morrisons said it has imposed the ban "to restrict multiple sales to larger buyers such as restaurants, caterers and snack bars so that consumers are not losing out".

A spate of poor weather in southern Spain, including rain and frost, has limited supplies from the vegetable-growing spots of Murcia and Valencia. Supermarkets are now scrambling to import fresh produce from the US, at an extra cost.

The "vegetable crisis", as the BBC terms it, has hit stocks of gem, romaine and iceberg lettuces, along with celery, cucumbers, courgettes, aubergines and peppers also suffering from the damage. 

Four in five of the UK's vegetables are said to come from the south of Spain. Contingency suppliers in Greece, Italy and Turkey have also been affected by the weather.

On top of rations, customers can also expect to pay a substantially higher amount for the products, says The Guardian.

US icebergs in Aldi, which had cost 78p, are now £1.19, while Tesco has put the price up from around 50p to 79p, says the newspaper.

Experts warn the price hikes and restrictions could affect supermarkets until April if weather conditions continue.

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