Salad shortage? How this summer’s heatwave has boosted lettuce demand

This summer’s European heatwave has wreaked havoc for vegetable farmers, as well as those of us who love a salad in this steaming weather.

High temperatures and little rainfall have caused a spike in demand for green vegetables and a drop in supply, with the UK in particular experiencing its longest heatwave in 42 years. In just one week this June, 18 million lettuce heads were sold in Great Britain – a 40 per cent rise in demand for fresh greens than this time last year.

Responding to the demand, IAG Cargo shipped over 30,000 heads of iceberg lettuce from Los Angeles to the UK over the course of just one week. We use our Constant Fresh product for this, and in many cases can deliver produce to supermarket shelves in under 48 hours. Our Constant Fresh product is designed to handle and deliver fresh produce quickly, packed well in refrigerated conditions to over 350 locations on our global network.

It doesn’t look like the hot summer is showing signs of cooling, and the UK is now facing a shortage of carrots, peas, broccoli, cauliflower, onions and potatoes. Britain’s ordinarily wet climate has helped it become the largest exporter of frozen peas, but the summer’s scorched earth has caused long-term damage to the harvest. Carrots face the same difficulties, and it’s likely the weather will affect crops for up to 11 months, if temperatures don’t drop an average of five to eight degrees.

Seasonal changes account for a high number of capacity cargo bookings – a 13 per cent increase in Peruvian asparagus exports, for example, was a direct result of a shorter spring in the UK this year.

Be it heavy downpours or scorching heat, we’ll continue to make sure shipments get to supermarkets as quickly as possible, so there are more than enough greens and spuds to go around.