UK food shortages could last beyond Easter
Updated: Feb 28
The UK food industry is facing a period of heightened disruption and shortages, which could potentially continue well beyond this Easter season. In today’s blog we look at which products are affected and what you can do to minimise any impact.
In recent weeks, the UK has faced significant challenges in sourcing fresh produce, with many supermarkets and wholesalers reporting shortages of essential items such as tomatoes, lettuce, and other salad vegetables. These shortages have been caused by extreme weather conditions and rising energy costs, which have severely impacted the supply of fresh produce from domestic and international sources.
One of the major factors contributing to the current supply shortages is the extreme weather conditions in Morocco and southern Spain, which provide a significant amount of fresh produce to the UK. Flooding and cold temperatures in Morocco, which provides a quarter of Britain's tomatoes, have delayed ripening and caused noticeable disruptions to the supply chain. Furthermore, storms have disrupted ferry transport in Tangiers, resulting in delays and cancellations that have impacted the availability of fresh produce. Similarly, mild autumn and winter temperatures giving way to a cold snap with frost in southern Spain have affected crops. Falling yields have also been compounded by higher production costs, as well as blights and viruses.
In addition to these weather-related challenges, the UK also faces a shortage of domestically grown salad vegetables due to soaring energy costs. Many British farmers have had to shut down their greenhouses this winter as they simply cannot afford the high energy bills required to keep them running. This situation has resulted in a severely reduced supply of UK-grown salad vegetables, which has further compounded the supply chain issues.
So, which fresh produce is being impacted by these supply shortages? Cucumbers have been particularly hard-hit, with a 50% shortfall reported across the continent. Other products experiencing a stark shortfall are courgettes and peppers (40%) and tomatoes and aubergines (35%). Additional key lines that are also affected are baby spinach, soft herbs, wild roquette, cos, iceberg, gem lettuce, lollo rosso, lollo biondo, oak leaf, broccoli, cauliflower and some soft fruits such as raspberries. In general, any fresh produce imported from Morocco or southern Spain or requiring greenhouse cultivation in the UK is likely to be impacted by these circumstances.
If you're in the foodservice or hospitality sector and are being impacted by these supply shortages, and subsequent price rises, it's essential to take action to minimise the impact on your menu and your profitability. Here are some tips to help you do just that:
1. Keep a close eye on inventory: One of the most important things you can do is closely monitor your fresh product inventory. Keep track of what you have in stock, what's running low, and what's unavailable. This practice will help you make more informed decisions about adapting your menu to the current supply situation.
2. Be flexible with your menu: Given the current supply shortages, it's crucial that you're willing to change your menu at short notice. If you can't get hold of a particular ingredient, consider using a substitute or creating a new dish altogether. This will help keep your menu exciting and appealing to customers, even if you face supply shortages.
3. Focus on seasonal and local produce: One way to mitigate the impact of supply shortages is to use seasonal and local produce. These products are often more readily available and can be sourced more easily than imported goods. Plus, they can be a great way to add a unique and regional flair to your menu, which can help to attract customers.
4. Build relationships with suppliers: Another way to minimise the impact of supply shortages is to build strong relationships with your suppliers. By communicating regularly and being proactive in your ordering, you can ensure that you get the products you need when they become available or have other relevant options if they're not. This activity can also help to build trust and loyalty with your suppliers, which can be beneficial in the long run.
5. Embrace frozen and preserved produce: While fresh produce is always preferable, frozen and preserved produce can be a good alternative during periods of supply chain disruption. This can include frozen fruits and vegetables, canned tomatoes, and pickled or preserved items such as olives and artichokes.
6. Reduce food waste: With fresh produce in short supply, it's vital to minimise waste wherever possible. This can be achieved by carefully planning menus, using leftover ingredients in new dishes, and using parts of often discarded vegetables, such as carrot tops and beet greens.
7. Keep up-to-date on the market: Beacon will inform you of severe product shortages, so keep an eye out for our emails in your inbox. Alternatively, we have a Market Information page on our website, collating all the product warnings we receive from our supply base. Please keep checking back regularly, as we update it often.
In conclusion, while the current fresh product supply shortages in the UK can be disruptive, these circumstances provide an opportunity to be creative and stay flexible. With some tweaks and adjustments to your menu, you can ensure that it still provides an enjoyable experience for your customers.
Entrusting a reliable supplier like Beacon Procurement Services is a great way to stay connected with the latest updates on fresh produce availability and alternative sources of key ingredients. Your friendly team of experts is ready to help you optimise your menu and minimise any disruption with valuable tips and insights. So don't let product supply shortages get in the way of your restaurant's incredible dishes – contact your Beacon Procurement Services Manager today for support.
For more information on these shortages, click the button below to see the most recent update from our parent company, and one of the biggest global food Group Purchasing Organisations, Entegra.