The shortage of tomatoes, which, according to the government, was brought on by poor weather conditions in Europe and Africa, has seen the price of the vegetable reportedly increase by 400%. The price increase has left some companies unable to afford to make passata pizza base.
The shortage could mean pizza chefs have to get creative with their ingredients, according to experts. President of the UK Italian Chef Federation, Enzo Oliveri, has called on the government to cap the price of tomatoes, but said: “I don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel.”
Mr. Oliveri also warned that due to rising costs and Brexit, now is a “very difficult time” for Italian restaurants in the UK. Soaring energy costs affecting crops in UK greenhouses has also been blamed for the shortage.
Jim Winship, Chair of the British Pizza, Pasta and Italian Food Association, said: “There is the possibility that pizzerias relying on fresh produce will have to get creative with ingredients. You can’t magic up tomatoes in a very short space of time.”
Since the shortage, major supermarkets in the UK have begun limiting the purchase of fruit and vegetables. Asda, Morrisons, Tesco and Aldi are among the supermarkets who are rationing fruit and veg products.
People have been urged not to panic buy fruit and veg as it’s hoped that supplies will improve in the next few weeks. However, former Environment Secretary George Eustice warned that the issue could last another month.
He blamed the crisis on a “cocktail of weather events” and a spike in energy prices due to the war in Ukraine. He also said there was "not much different the government could have done in recent months" and "there’s nothing they can do immediately" to avoid the problems affecting supply chains.