Courgette shortage costs retailers £2M in January

By Matt Atherton

- Last updated on GMT

Retailers lost £2M from courgette sales in January
Retailers lost £2M from courgette sales in January

Related tags Supermarket Retailing Inflation Iri

UK retailers lost £2M in courgette sales last month, after unfavourable growing conditions in Spain meant supermarkets had to restrict UK supplies.

Courgette sales dropped 51% in the week to January 21 – the equivalent of about £655,000 –compared with the same week last year, according to data from retail analyst IRI. The following week, sales dropped by 58%, equalling about £715,000. In total, retailers lost £2M across the entire month.

IRI head of strategic insight Martin Wood said: “We know there have been production problems in southern Europe, and it’s starting to impact sales quite dramatically at the leading grocery multiples.

“It remains to be seen if this downward trend continues. In the meantime, retailers are having to react quickly to the shortage, and look to alternative suppliers to plug the gaps and keep customers happy.”

Floods, snow and storms

The shortage of courgettes​ came following floods, snow and storms in southern Spain over the Christmas period. Many of the UK’s vegetables are sourced from southern Europe over the winter, IRI said.

Tesco restricted customers to three lettuces at a time in response to the vegetable shortages​. Morrisons limited customers to three broccoli and two iceberg lettuces.

Meanwhile, retailers reported a dip in sales after Christmas this year, market data specialist Nielsen reported. Total revenue from the UK’s top 10 retailers dropped 1.1% across the four weeks to January 28, while the amount of groceries sold decreased by 2.7%.

Set to be a positive year

But, Nielsen said 2017 was still set to be a positive year for supermarkets.

Nielsen UK head of retail and business insight Mike Watkins said: “Partly due to the timing of New Year negatively affecting comparative sales, the figures don’t really reflect how the industry started the year.

“We anticipate the industry to grow about 2% this year, an improvement on 2016, primarily due to the return of cost price inflation after three years of deflation and the depreciation of sterling – yet grocery spend remaining robust despite price rises. The discounters will continue to grow faster than this due to the acceleration of new store openings which could push their market share to 13% for the first ever time.”

Courgette sales in January – at a glance

  • Retailers lost £2M in courgette sales
  • Sales down £655,000 in week ending January 21
  • Sales down £715,000 in week ending January 28

Related topics Supply Chain Fresh produce

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