'off the radar' | 

Price of peppers triples as temperatures plummet in ‘Europe’s Glasshouse’

Peppers have seen a shocking 300% price increase and tomatoes have gone up 200%.

Stock photo© Alamy Stock Photo

Níall FeiritearSunday World

The cost of some fruit and vegetables have exploded in Ireland as a mass of polar weather hits the Spanish mainland.

Peppers have seen a shocking 300% price increase and tomatoes have gone up 200%.

"This week prices have gone off the radar,” according to Justin Leonard from Leonard & Sons.

Speaking on Newstalk’s Breakfast Business show, the fruit and vegetable importer spoke about the knock-on effect adverse weather on mainland Europe is having here in terms of supply shortages.

"People say that Ukraine is the breadbasket of Europe; well in the winter months Spain is the glasshouse of Europe.

"The likes of your tomatoes, cucumbers, iceberg lettuce - even down to the likes of cauliflower and broccoli - all those lines have become extremely short.

"Although they're not completely unavailable, the supplies are very, very limited," he said.

The reason for the paucity of supplies is a high-altitude depression which has crossed Spain recently, resulting in a cold spell.

“All the produce that's grown during the winter months comes from Spain. It became very apparent at the start of this week on the ground in the market,” Mr Leonard said.

"We could see it coming for the last 10 days or so: volumes were becoming harder to get, and prices were slowly creeping up.

"It's a seller's market. I'm 36 years in the business, and I've never seen a price go so high for so many products.

"It's across the board, it's every single product, and that's obviously going to have to filter down all the way to the consumer.”

The problems are even worse on mainland Britain, exacerbated by Brexit.

"Unfortunately for Britain they're in a little bit more of a precarious situation than ourselves, here in Ireland.

"We're still members of the EU, but Britain after Brexit, becoming a third country means anything that's shipped to or from Britain would need certain clearance documentation.

"If you're a third country and you're importing a product, there's an awful lot of paperwork that goes with the export of that product.

"The exporters say, 'It's easier to sell the product in Europe than it is to send it all the way to Britain'," Mr Leonard added.

Restaurants, cafés, local corner shops and even larger supermarkets are "being restricted as to the volumes they can receive,” in Ireland currently.

On top of that, weather forecasts in Spain are predicting the continuation of the cold snap, according to the ‘Meteored’ weather mapping service.

“The scenario is set to become more complicated, since the high-altitude cold air pocket will move towards the Mediterranean.

“Rains will be directed to the Mediterranean slope, where they could be stronger as a result of the resulting storm.

“Heavy showers and snowfall are expected in the east and the Balearic Islands for the coming weekend,” according to the Meteored service.

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