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By Thomas Phippen
Several grocery chains in the UK are limiting the amount of lettuce customers can buy in a single visit due to vegetable shortages caused by cold winter weather in Spain and other southern EU nations.
The shortage has even created a lettuce black market, with boxes of iceberg lettuce that normally cost $6.25 selling for $62.49 on the UK’s Craigslist-style website Gumtree, The Guardian reports.
Bad winter weather around the Mediterranean has reduced crops by an estimated 60 percent this season, the Daily Mail reports, and the price of lettuce in particular has jumped. Many stores have completely run out of zucchinis and eggplants.
One store hung a notice saying that “Due to continued weather problems in Spain there is a shortage of iceberg lettuce. To protect the availability to all our customers, we are limiting bulk purchases to three per person. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”
Shoppers are using social media to post about the shortage of lettuce, and the high price of vegetables at local supermarkets.
My local Tesco also affected by the lettuce and salad rationing. Not much there to ration though! pic.twitter.com/NX0Mo99Fts
— Rob Gregory (@RobGregOnRetail) February 2, 2017
— Cameron Viveiros (@cameroncape22) February 3, 2017
@Pamplemoose_x Hi there, sadly due to the poor weather in Spain and Europe in recent months our suppliers have sufferd shortages. 1/2
— Tesco (@Tesco) February 2, 2017
Some are even offering to sell their heads of lettuce on Twitter to make a buck.
— Gary Day (@Dayer1976) February 3, 2017
— Parveen Agnihotri (@Parveen_Comms) February 3, 2017
The shortage in iceberg lettuce imported from Spain could last a few months, according to Nick Padley, a fruit and vegetable wholesaler in the UK, and some stores will start importing lettuce from the U.S.
“There’s a gap of about six weeks on iceberg lettuce, nothing is coming from Spain for six to eight weeks,” Padley told the BBC. “Our supplier is now going to be bringing in iceberg from America which is obviously costing more. It’s a tough time.”