Tesco empty shelves

Some supermarkets introduced rationing in February in response to supply issues and shortages across fresh produce

Tesco has become the latest retailer to lift buying restrictions across its fruit and veg lines.

The supermarket confirmed to The Grocer it had removed buying limits on tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers on Tuesday.

On 22 February, in the face of rising supply issues, Tesco put in place restrictions of three items per customer on sales of tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. All of these curbs have now been lifted.

It follows rollbacks across the major retailers and discounters of previously imposed rationing in recent days.

One industry spokesman said “stock levels are improving” despite core supply issues remaining the same.

Asda, Lidl and Aldi have removed all buying restrictions in their fruit and veg aisles over the past week.

Aldi and Lidl had capped peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes to three units per person, while Asda limited eight lines – tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, lettuce, salad bags, broccoli, cauliflower and raspberries – to three each per customer.

Morrisons is the only retailer to continue to have some restrictions in place. It has removed its limits on purchases of cucumbers, but limits remain in place on tomatoes, lettuce and peppers to two packs per customer.

Some supermarkets introduced rationing in February in response to supply issues and shortages caused by “difficult weather conditions in the south of Europe and northern Africa, which disrupted the harvest of some fruit & veg including tomatoes and peppers”, according to BRC director Andrew Opie.

Opie had predicted the issue would last for a couple of weeks in February, but caveated that supermarkets were “adept at managing supply chain issues and working with farmers to ensure customers are able to access a wide range of fresh produce”. 

Supply was also impacted by a pullback in production in the UK due to soaring input and energy costs, with NFU president Minette Batters warning salad production was likely to hit an all-time low.

Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Marks & Spencer, Iceland and Co-op did not introduce buying restrictions.

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