Spiralling Out Of Control: The Courgette Crisis Continues

Shortages of courgettes set to last until April as bad weather continues in Spain whilst other vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers and lettuce may also be in short supply until March.

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As harsh weather conditions continue to cause problems throughout Spain, effects are now being felt, of all places, in supermarkets in the UK and across wider Europe, with acute shortages of many popular vegetables.

Indeed record low temperatures and increased rainfall, which saw unprecedented levels of snow last week and flooding earlier this week, have led to significant crop deficiencies of courgettes, tomatoes, peppers and lettuce. Only 25 to 30 per cent of what is normally available are currently on supermarket shelves, and prices are three to four times higher than they would normally be at this time of year, according to reports from numerous UK wholesalers and supermarkets. courgette shortage, courgette crisis spain, courgette spain, courgette shortage 

Southeastern Spain, including the region of Murcia, which produces over 80 per cent of vegetables sold in the UK during winter, has been one of the worst affected areas. Persistently bad weather has damaged crops and stopped some farmers from planting altogether. In Murcia, the average temperature in mid-January should be around 16 degrees in the day and 8 degrees at night but recently temperatures have dropped as far as -2 degrees at night and 2 degrees in the day.courgette shortage

John McCann, managing director of bagged salad processor Willowbrook Foods, who visited Murcia last week, said he had seen crops washed away as a result of flooding, reporting some instances where fields had been turned into lakes. The shortage has meant that Willowbrook Foods had been unable to fulfil orders to many of its retail and foodservice customers: “Last week we had a shortage level of up to 70%, which is completely unheard of in our business”, McCann told FG Insight.

McCann also said he believed the crisis could continue for another eight weeks: “The crops are 80 per cent unusable and with up to four weeks of planting missed and little or no growth happening, a disaster is unfolding. courgette shortage, courgette crisis, courgette spain courgette shortage

“What happens next will depend on the temperatures over the coming weeks,” he said.

But this is where there could be some cause for optimism. If the weather in Spain improves soon, which some forecasts do indicate, courgettes will be one of the first crops back on supermarket shelves. According to Nina Pullman, deputy editor of The Fresh Produce Journal: “Aubergines and courgettes are really dependent on temperature – if it warms up they will start growing more quickly and the supply shortages will ease.”

Here’s hoping the worst of the bad weather is finally over.  courgette shortage, courgette crisis

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