The UK's Gas Prices Are Causing A Major Tomato Shortage

Tomatoes are some of the most versatile fruits. They are the base for many sauces and soups. They're packed full of fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and folate, so you can feel good about adding a few extra chopped pieces on top of your salad. If you want to buy farm-fresh food, you can feel good about supporting your local farmers when you purchase from a farmer's market or grocery store that stocks produce from nearby farms.

In order to grow, the temperature of tomato plants must be maintained. The plants thrive in warmer weather and do best at a steady temperature between 55 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. If the plants become too cold, they are susceptible to blossom drops: which is when the plant's flowers fall off before any fruit is produced. In order to prevent this, many farmers plant their tomatoes inside greenhouses, which allow for easy temperature control. Unfortunately, due to a gas shortage, many farmers in the United Kingdom are unable to maintain their greenhouses.

Shoppers are struggling to find produce

Shoppers in the United Kingdom have gas shortages to thank for slimmer produce offerings. The nation has been affected by a tomato shortage, and people are struggling to find the fruits in their local grocery stores. One Twitter user shared a photo of their supermarket with several empty tomato shelves, captioned with "Not loving this tomato shortage we're having in the UK right now."

Farmers have been struggling to afford heat for their greenhouses, forcing them to make the tough decision to reduce the greenhouses producing tomatoes or spend extra money. Some farmers have been forced to hold off on planting tomatoes, hoping for warmer weather outside in the future. This is leading to a lack of available supply now, as the growing season has been delayed.

Additionally, seeds and fertilizer costs have increased, making production more expensive for farmers. Rising fuel costs have also made it more expensive to transport products from farms to supermarkets. Farmers and stores have had to raise prices to keep up, making the limited stock more expensive for shoppers.

Costs are up on available tomatoes

The U.K. gets many of its tomatoes from Morocco, Spain, and the Netherlands. Morocco alone is responsible for nearly a quarter of the country's supply, according to a tweet from the British Embassy in Morocco. However, increased gas and fuel costs have made it more expensive to import the fruit, causing supermarkets to cut down on the number of tomatoes for sale. While it may seem like it could be cheaper to stock stores with U.K.-grown produce, the country has been hit by the same gas price increases.

Customers purchasing the tomatoes still available on store shelves are seeing the impacts of inflation firsthand with raised prices on the produce. One kilo of tomatoes in the U.K. costs roughly £2.80 ($3.37). By comparison, the same amount cost only £2.14 ($2.58) in 2021. Experts worry that these issues — which can affect all types of produce, not just tomatoes — could lead to future food shortages. Due to global supply chain disruptions, some sections of the grocery store may be looking a little emptier than usual, while your wallet will be feeling a little thinner.