Twickenham family business boasts full tomato crates while supermarket shelves remain empty

A family business in Twickenham avoided the fruit and vegetable shortages that have plagued UK supermarket shelves over the past few days and is boasting full tomato crates.

P Cooper and Sons fruit and vegetable shop on King St had full crates of tomatoes, while the Tesco next door was completely empty bar a few ‘Tesco finest’ packets.

Major supermarkets recently limited items of produce that each customer can buy with many stores imposing a maximum of 3 per person, due to a combination of cold weather in Spain and Morocco and energy price hikes. 

Tesco said its limits, which applied to both loose fruit and vegetables and produce sold in packs, were a precautionary measure to ensure customers could get the produce they needed.

John Cooper from P Cooper and Sons said: “We’ve managed to keep everything in stock.”

ALL EMPTY: Tomato crates on Thursday afternoon at the Tesco on King St

The Twickenham family business normally sources fruit and vegetables from the Western International Market but also liaises with British farms, particularly in warmer months.

Cooper, 33, commented that prices of the tomatoes at Western International Market had increased from £1.65 per kilo to £4.40 within a matter of days, while boxes of peppers had rocketed from £10 to £25.

When South West Londoner visited the shop on Thursday afternoon, fruit and vegetables were in plentiful supply.

PLENTIFUL SUPPLY: Peppers were also among the abundant fruit and vegetables

Meanwhile, at an ASDA superstore in Hounslow, one customer lamented that “everything is gone.”

Team leader Marshlee Samao explained that store supply issues are dealt with by ASDA head office.

“Tomatoes are completely gone. If it comes it comes, that’s how it is for us,” they said. 

A manager at the Hounslow ASDA superstore, Manish Badgami, 41, told South West Londoner that shortages were not as severe as they were during the pandemic.

Many customers at the store noted the separate issue of an egg shortage which has been ongoing since the summer.

‘EGGXIT’: There was a shortage of organic eggs in particular

The National Farmers Union says that egg production has fallen to its lowest level in nine years as farmers lack the means to keep up with production costs.

A store regular said: “I never find eggs when I come in the evening.” 

Another customer commented: “Eggs are something that are usually out. This has been happening for the past few months.”

The milk aisle of the ASDA store was also completely empty, though a sales assistant insisted that this was due to a delivery problem rather than a fundamental issue with supply.

MILK: An absence

Britain imports around 95% of its tomatoes and 90% of lettuce over winter in order to keep up with high demand from consumers.

Recent shortages have fuelled debates on European importing restrictions due to Brexit but also heightened customer expectations caused by growing national dependency on foreign economies.

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