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Common fresh produce items have risen significantly in price over the past 12 weeks, Assosia data revealed, following widespread shortages 

Fruit & veg lines are up to 25% more expensive in the wake of recent shortages across major supermarkets, The Grocer can reveal.

Common fresh produce items have risen significantly in price over the past 12 weeks, Assosia data showed, following shortages largely caused by poor weather in Spain and northern Africa.

A total of 61 products have risen more than 10% in price since mid-January. These represent 11.4% of the lines affected by shortages in the traditional big four, Aldi and Lidl.

Aldi’s Nature’s Pick Wild Rocket (60g) and a Lidl Meadow Fresh Wild Rocket Salad (60g) were subject to the biggest hikes, up 23.1% to 80p each. This equated to a 40% year-on-year increase for the two lines.

The next highest risers were Aldi’s Nature’s Pick Loose Red Peppers, up 22.9%, and Lidl’s Oakland Organic Cucumber, up 22.7%. This was followed by Lidl’s Meadow Fresh Garden Salad Bowl and Meadow Fresh Mediterranean Salad Bowl, both up 20.9%.

Eleven fresh produce lines sold by Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons and Asda also saw rises of 20% during the period.

Meanwhile, Iceberg lettuces at Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Aldi and Lidl all rose by 16.7%, increasing from 60p to 70p. 

And whole cucumber prices also rose across the board with the line increasing at Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Aldi, and Lidl by 14.5% and at Morrisons by 8.7%, although it’s organic offering rose significantly higher, up by 20.2%.

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Surprisingly, tomatoes saw comparatively small price increases, despite being one of the items most affected by the shortages. The highest increases were at Asda, which hiked its Sweet & Balanced Salad tomatoes by 16.7% to £1.75, while its Crunchy & Juicy Cherry Tomatoes rose 12.4% to £1.

The Assosia data reinforces findings from the ONS last week, which revealed veg was the biggest driver of inflation across the food and non-alcoholic beverages category in February.

The ONS suggested shortages were the driving force behind an annual inflation rate of 18% for vegetables in the year to February 2023 – the highest rate recorded since February 2009.

Overall vegetable prices rose by a total of 3.3% in February, according to its figures. Cucumbers rose by 11.4% on average across the major retailers, while lettuce prices were up 9.4%, onions rose 8.9%, peppers were up 7.7% and tomatoes were up 1.5%.

“The limited availability, coupled with a weakening pound, made European imports more expensive, leading to price rises,” said BRC economist Harvir Dhillon.

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“Through initiatives such as our Aldi Price Match campaign, Price Lock and My Nectar Prices, customers can find low prices on the products they buy most often both in stores and online – including peppers, lettuce and cucumber,” said a Sainsbury’s spokeswoman.

“With household budgets under increasing pressure we are absolutely committed to helping our customers, by keeping a laser focus on the cost of the weekly shop,” added a Tesco spokesman, also referencing Aldi price matching in addition to clubcard prices. 

The other affected retailers were also approached for comment.

It comes as data for The Grocer’s Key Value Items tracker (below), showed that own label cucumbers increased in price by 5% in the past week alone, across Aldi, Asda, Lidl, Sainsbury’s and Tesco.