UK supermarkets have been struck by a tarragon shortage, after bad weather in key growing regions disrupted supply.
Unusually cold, rainy and windy weather in Israel and Spain has destroyed large amounts of the tarragon crop, leaving suppliers unable to source the herb.
“Due to a number of issues in the regions it is grown we, along with a number of other retailers, are currently experiencing problems with the supply of fresh tarragon,” said a spokesman for Sainsbury’s. “We are working hard with our suppliers to rectify this and we hope to be back to full supply within a few weeks.”
Sandy MacArthur, director at wholesaler The Lemon Tree Produce, said he managed to buy a 1kg bag of fresh tarragon for “the first time in weeks” earlier this week. “There just isn’t any tarragon around,” he said. “I’ve only been able to get the odd 80g bag through a local supplier.”
Prices have risen as a result of the shortages. One source was this week quoting a wholesale price of high-quality French tarragon - the type widely imported and sold in the UK - as about £11,000/tonne, nearly 20% more than in early 2012, with suppliers buying standard-quality tarragon from France having to pay about £4/kg compared with £3.75/kg a few weeks ago.
MacArthur said he, too, had to pay more for his tarragon, but added price was the least of his worries. “It doesn’t really matter what the price is if you can’t buy any.”
Tarragon is grown in the UK, but the British season does not kick off until April, meaning retailers and suppliers have to rely on overseas supplies in the winter.
The shortages have primarily affected fresh tarragon, as dried herbs are less susceptible to market swings. It is hoped the shortages will ease again, once British-grown tarragon comes onto the market in April.