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    Food shortage ‘outside everyone’s control’

    Richard Walker

    Iceland Foods chair Richard Walker has said current fruit and veg shortages are “outside everyone’s control” as the retailer is trialing vertical lettuce farms.

    Speaking to Nick Ferrari on LBC’s morning show, Walker said that the frozen food specialist was in “an OK shape” with regards to the ongoing supply issues which have seen Lidl, Asda, Tesco and Aldi imposing limits on the amount shoppers can buy.

    “We’re in the same boat as others in that our supply of fresh veg is challenged,” he said, confirming that the retailer hasn’t yet put any caps or limits on purchases of affected items.

    “Of course, we’re frozen specialists, but you can’t freeze cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce. That’s the problem. This is a short term issue, and it’s outside of everyone’s control – business, the government…  it’s due to bad weather in Morocco.”

    “I don’t see that at all. That’s not my experience running a supermarket,” he said, adding that the issue would be less of an immediate concern if the UK had “bigger domestic production”.

    Acknowledging how tough it is for farmers due to the rising cost of energy sending heating bills soaring, Walker pointed out that it “costs a fortune to heat greenhouses and that’s why they’ve shut off a lot of production”. He also added that shortage is “something we’re just going to have to get more used to”.

    “We’re obviously very sorry to customers at the moment, but we just need them to cope for two, three weeks until this is sorted,” he said, adding that the Iceland Foods team “work day and night” to make sure the supply lines are running.

    The news comes as Walker announced his ambition to climb Mt Everest on behalf of the Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation (IFCF), in a bid to raise over £1 million to support people living with rare dementias.

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