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Europe needs more tomatoes from Egypt

In English supermarkets, customers are currently faced with empty vegetable shelves. Tomatoes cucumbers and peppers in particular are in short supply.
© Freepik

In many English supermarkets, customers are currently faced with empty vegetable shelves. Tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers in particular are in short supply. 

Rationing in supermarkets
Supermarket chains Asda, Morrisons and Aldi have this week started limiting sales to two or three pieces of vegetables per customer. Tesco is also reporting difficulties. The reason for the shortages is poor harvests after a cold spell in Morocco and in Spain, from where the British import a lot of vegetables in winter. Morocco has restricted exports. 

Energy costs too high
An exacerbating factor in Europe is that heated greenhouses are cutting back on production because of high energy costs, according to Minette Batters, president of the National Farmers Union. Greenhouse cultivation is at its lowest level in forty years, she said. "Many have mothballed their farms completely," said Batters, who called for more government subsidies for energy bills. Otherwise, "not only tomatoes and peppers, but soon lettuces, cauliflower and broccoli could be in short supply because of. "We want to avoid rationing like there was with eggs in December," Batters said. At that time, egg producers supplied too little because of high energy costs and bird flu. British farmers are also complaining about labour shortages exacerbated by Brexit. 

Dutch greenhouses close
Many greenhouse operators in the Netherlands are also complaining about the high energy costs. According to the CBS statistics agency, the farms that generate electricity with gas engines consumed almost a third less natural gas in 2022 than in the previous year. The trade medium Nieuwe Oogst (New Harvest) wrote: "Many greenhouse operators have chosen to close or cut back production during the winter months because of the high costs." "The Netherlands is one of the world's big agricultural exporters. 

Vegetable prices are rising
Vegetable prices at home were a topic in the media on Wednesday. The newspaper "De Telegraaf" wrote about difficulties of supermarkets to fill shelves. And prices are rising rapidly. A cauliflower today costs 2.50 euros, a year ago only 1.75 euros; tomatoes have risen from 2.80 euros to 4 euros. According to the cooperative Rabobank, which is particularly active in the agricultural sector, the low mood in the greenhouse sector may meanwhile be over, and gas prices are easing. "There has been no panic," it writes. In Germany, Edeka said there was no shortage of vegetables, "We can continue to ensure the supply of sufficient quantities to our markets," the cooperative retail association said.