Wetherspoons has this morning announced that it will be pulling a key item from its breakfast menu due to a nationwide shortage.
The budget pub chain has revealed that its customers will no longer be able to enjoy traditional grilled tomatoes with their Full English breakfasts, with the decision being broadly blamed on bad weather in Europe affecting crop yields.
However, according to farmers the current UK rationing of tomatoes involves several factors including the climate crisis, energy prices and Brexit with many UK regions still in drought.
As a result, the boozer’s bargain £6.88 fry-up will now be missing a key ingredient for several months at least – leaving customers fuming.
Prior to the shortage, it was comprised of two slices of toast, two sausages, two bacon, two fried eggs, a large mushroom slice, three hash browns, a tomato and baked beans.
But for now, customers will have to do without.
Punters are also unable to add on grilled tomatoes as an extra to other meals, with the item currently listed as being ‘out of stock’.
After receiving several customer complaints, Wetherspoons installed informational posters around its pubs explaining why the key item is currently missing from its menu.
It reads: “There is a national supply issue affecting tomato and cucumber in some pubs.
“This means some menu dishes, such as breakfasts, burgers and steaks, will be served without tomatoes.”
Tomatoes have largely disappeared from shelves across the UK after local producers didn’t feel confident to cover their costs for growing the energy-intensive crop.
As such, UK supermarkets have been forced to increase their reliance on tomatoes grown abroad – sourcing 95% from farms in Spain and Morocco during the winter months.
However, adverse weather conditions abroad has led to a lower crop yield than usual, leading producers to drive up their prices – and major UK supermarkets to reduce the amount of tomatoes on offer in response.
Despite shortages in UK supermarkets, it’s worth noting that local UK greengrocers are reporting no similar problems.
The situation also seems to be different in Europe, with some Europeans getting very vocal online about the abundance of tomatoes in their own stores.
It does appear that the wider EU is not facing any shortages, despite the problems in the UK.
Andrew Opie, Director of Food and Sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, told ITV News: “Difficult weather conditions in the south of Europe and northern Africa have disrupted the harvest for some fruit and vegetables including tomatoes and peppers.”
“Supermarkets are adept at managing supply chain issues and are working with farmers to ensure that customers are able to access a wide range of fresh produce.”
Ksenija Simovic, senior policy advisor at the United Voice of Farmers and Agri-cooperatives in the EU, explained that with major growers like Netherlands and Belgium cutting back on production due to the rise in energy and fertiliser costs the supply in Europe has been ‘squeezed’.
However, rather than facing shortages at home, the EU has opted for fewer external exports and higher prices.
Ms Simovic said: “Things tend to be managed easier within the Single Market.”
When asked if Brexit was to blame for the shortages in the UK she said while it wasn’t the leading cause “it certainly doesn’t help.”
The general view appears to be that the shortage will only last a few weeks, but some growers have predicted it continuing into the summer.
The Lawn Club closes temporarily after bar brawl at event leaves ‘trail of blood’ on floor
The Lawn Club has been temporarily instructed to close after a fight last weekend left a trail of blood on the floor outside.
The popular Spinningfields sun-trap bar has said that it’s cooperating fully with Greater Manchester Police and Manchester City Council while the incident is investigated.
A report from GMP said that ‘a large group of people’ were fighting at the city centre bar, one of whom reportedly was seen with a gun, which was thankfully not fired.
At 10.25pm on Sunday 4 June, North West Ambulance service reported that a male had been stabbed in the leg but ‘the knife was no longer in his leg and they didn’t know where it was’.
The victim got up and walked away, and has still not been traced.
The incident happened during an event that was organised by a third party promoter.
The Lawn Club provided CCTV footage to officers, which showed two males arguing before a third appeared with a black handgun.
A spokesperson for the venue said: “On Sunday 4th June, an incident occurred at The Lawn Club, the premises operated by Hardman Bars. This was during an event organised by a third party promoter.
“As a result of this incident, we have been instructed to close the premises temporarily. We also recognise and fully comply with the request by GMP and Manchester City Council, received at a hearing on 07.06.23, for a temporary suspension of our licence while the incident is investigated and reviewed in full.
“We are cooperating entirely with GMP and Manchester City Council to provide any information they require in relation to the incident.
“We’d like to reassure our customers and the community that this is an isolated incident. But nevertheless, the safety of our team, customers and the community is of the highest importance to us. As such, during this period of closure, we will be actively working with the authorities and relevant parties to review all policies and procedures in place at the premises.”
Featured image: The Manc Group
The Stockport farm supper club where you eat outside in the fields
There’s a supper club on a community farm in Stockport where you can dine outside in the very fields where your food has grown.
Hosted by Manchester food waste cafe Open Kitchen in partnership with The Kindling Trust, the journey from plot to plate has never been shorter.
The pair have joined forces to celebrate local, seasonal and sustainably produced food in the most delicious way possible – with a three-course vegan menu designed to show off the organic produce grown at The Kindling Trust’s site in Woodbank Memorial Park.
The supper will be served outside in the fields as part of a unique ‘pop-up restaurant’ experience, accompanied by paired organic wines designed to complement each dish.
Full bar service will also be provided, with provisions made for cover from the ‘Manchester weather’ if required.
Corin Bell, Exec Director of Open Kitchen said, “Messages about sustainability can sometimes feel like they are all about going without…. Don’t fly, don’t drive, etc.
“We want to focus on positive messages about sustainability, that focus on shifts in behaviour that are kinder to planet and people.
“The event with Kindling will showcase beautiful food and drink, and also be supporting local, sustainable, independent and ethical business, all of which are really core values for both open Kitchen and Kindling”.
Chris Walsh from the Kindling Trust said: “Events like fine dining in the fields are really important to us, because they open up the farm to members of the public, and help to really bring the message home about why local and sustainable produce is so important for our planet and our local economy”.
Located just a mile east of Stockport town centre, Woodbank Community Food Hub is an urban horticulture hub co-ordinated by the Kindling Trust that joins up inclusive community gardening with commercial organic food production.
The size of one and a half football pitches, it includes several large polytunnels for under-cover veg growing as well as three field blocks, apple trees and a community garden.
As well as hosting the dinner in the fields, it is also a place to collect fresh organic veg bags delivered by the Veg Box People, who make sure farmers get regular demand and a fair price for their produce.
Taking place from 6 to 9pm on Wednesday 21 June 2023, to find out more about the dinner and purchase tickets click here.