Fruit and veg business tells people ‘Don’t panic’

LISTEN to the radio and watch the TV and you may think the country is running out of fruit and veg.

Shelves are bare, with no tomatoes available, and supermarket chains Tesco, Aldi, Lidl and Asda have imposed limits on the number of certain items customers can buy.

But while some people panic at the thought of not being able to make tomato soup or dice a pepper, look a bit deeper and the issues are nowhere near as bad.

Matthew Gilmartin aka The Veg Lord

For businesses specialising in Class One products are having no such supply problems.

Matthew Gilmartin runs The Veg Lord in Mossley and has found that while crop are smaller, they can still be sourced.

And if anything, the reports about the chains have sent people more local.

He said: “Across a five to six mile radius, there are a number of greengrocers and farm shops who’ve experienced no shortages and there are no limitations on what you can buy.

“There are things available and if everyone just buys what they need, it’s manageable for everyone – but when UK-wide announcements are made, it causes panic.

“If anything, the scaremongering hasn’t been a negative thing, it’s been a positive.

“We’ve seen new custom come through the door and it helps grow our business. We’ve not had a shortage of what’s been reported.

“I’ve not experienced any shortages and wholesalers tell me, ‘We will never not have any.’

“There’s always going to be something there, we’re just going to have to work a different way. We work on a smaller scale, so it’s much more manageable to get our stock in.

“We provide Class One produce. The difference is the state of the fruit and veg, it would be at the best possible point of its life ready for retail. It’s a premium piece of fruit and veg.

“And we have a different relationship with suppliers as we go through a wholesaler who has a direct link with that grower, they’re closer to the everyday of what’s going on.

“Things are still available, they’re just a little more expensive.

“There has been a short crop, the weather’s not been great but we’ve still got the same amount of choice when we go to the wholesalers.

“But because there’s been a short crop, the price of things goes up as the farmers need to survive.

“We’re finding there’s still plenty of choice, we’re just paying more for it.”

Surrounded by tomatoes, cucumbers and leeks, some of the products limited by supermarkets, Matthew says the reports have had an impact on his business, but not one many may think.

He added from his Warmco Industrial Estate base: “We’re lucky in the sense we’ve got a very loyal customer base already, who have the recommended that other people visit us when there have been shortages.

“So we’re grateful to the new custom that’s come through the door, we’ve seen an increase in footfall.”

*THE VEG Lord is at Unit W1F, Warmco Industrial Estate at Woodend Mill in Mossley. It is open from 10am until 4pm Tuesday to Friday, from 10am until 3pm on a Saturday. You can find him online at

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