Salad greens in short supply after recent heavy rains

Unseasonal heavy rains in February and March created havoc in SA’s main salad-farming areas, with retailers such as Woolworths and Pick n Pay, among others, struggling to keep stock of lettuce and other greens.

Full supply will be restored within the next two weeks, a Woolworths spokesman has said. Woolworths, which is based in Cape Town and has more than 330 stores countrywide, has posted signs on shop shelves to notify customers about the shortage.

“Extremely hot conditions and then heavy rains” affected crops and Pick n Pay has experienced shortages, Anthony Brown, the Cape Town-based company’s divisional manager for fresh produce, said. “We expect the situation to normalise within the next three to four weeks.”

In less than two weeks last month, Jo’burg got more than double the usual average monthly rainfall, according to the SA Weather Service. Showers in the Cape Province and Gauteng caused delays in harvests. Ninety-nine percent of lettuce produced is for local consumption, according to the agriculture ministry.

Restaurants and independent vegetable sellers have also been affected. Those that have been able to source lettuce have faced higher asking prices. Fruit & Veg City, the Cape Town-based grocer, has more than doubled lettuce prices in the last month, Rupert Stoop, a company spokesman, said.

There is also limited supply of other vegetables, according to Dino da Silva, co-owner of Tyrone Fruiterers in Johannesburg.

“The rains around Gauteng last month have caused shortages for the last four weeks of several leafy greens such as cabbage, spinach, lettuce and herbs,” he said. “It got to a point where we were being dictated to on price – it’s a case of demand and limited supply.”

Source: Bloomberg