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Supermarkets could see lettuce shortage as heatwave causes 'havoc' for British growers

Salad greens could disappear from shelves in next fortnight as temperatures halt production

Tom Barnes
Saturday 30 June 2018 13:09 BST
UK weather: The latest Met Office forecast

Britain’s summer heatwave could see lettuces disappear from supermarket shelves across the UK, growers have warned.

The warm weather has seen a spike in demand for the salad vegetable, with around 18 million heads sold in Britain last week alone, five million more than in the same period last year.

However, experts say the heat is causing chaos for lettuce producers in the UK, with shortages expected to become apparent in shops within the next fortnight.

“The soaring summer temperatures are causing havoc for the UK’s leafy salad growers,” said Dieter Lloyd, spokesman for trade body the British Leafy Salad Growers Association (BLSGA).

“The record temperatures have stopped the lettuce crop growing, when the mercury hits 30C lettuces can’t grow.

“In all of the major growing areas, from Cupar in Fife, through Preston, to Ely in East Anglia and Chichester, Sussex, the hot weather has affected all our growers.

“We may be seeing some gaps on retailers’ shelves in the next two weeks as the heatwave continues.”

The BSLGA said consumers may see lettuce from the other side of the Atlantic appear in supermarkets as retailers aim to meet demand.

Southern Europe, where Britain sources many of its salad crops during the winter, will also be too warm to produce lettuce in summer months.

Salad leaves are not the only crop to be effected by the warm weather.

Producers have reported concerns over vegetables such as broccoli, which also stop growing if conditions become too hot.

Britain has enjoyed a scorching week, in which the record for the hottest day of the year was smashed on four consecutive afternoons.

Forecasters expect the heatwave to continue throughout the weekend, with more temperatures in excess of 30C expected across large swathes of the country.

However, the warm weather has also sparked warnings over water shortages, with several utility companies issuing pleas to customers to cut down on usage.

Concerns are greatest in Northern Ireland, where a hosepipe ban came into effect on Friday evening.

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