New Covent Garden Market warns of shortages amid border chaos

By Sian Bayley, local democracy reporter

One of the capital’s most famous markets fears there may be a shortage of some items if the border chaos continues.

New Covent Garden Market in Nine Elms supplies fresh fruit and vegetables to many of the capital’s top hotels and restaurants.

It has warned that the border closure with France this week could cause a shortage of certain items such as lettuces and citrus fruits.

France shut its UK border for 48 hours on Sunday amid fears of a new coronavirus variant.

More than 1,500 lorries were thought to be stuck in Kent waiting to leave the UK.

Travel into France from the UK resumed on Wednesday morning after Paris reopened its borders with Britain for people who have tested negative for Covid-19, but trucks have remained stuck in queues at Dover.

Rebecca Barrett, Head of Strategy, Partnerships and Communications, at Covent Garden Market Authority said: “It is important that the Government recognise the essential role that wholesale markets play in the distribution of fresh produce, serving 35 to 40% of all fresh produce sold in the UK.

“At this time of year, approximately 50% of all of our fresh produce comes from Europe. At the moment, we have enough produce to fulfil existing orders and European stock is arriving on the market through Holland.

“If the situation continues, we anticipate that the items we’ll see a shortage of first are gem and iceberg lettuce, baby spinach, citrus fruits, raspberries, and broccoli.”

The market houses 175 companies and employs 2,500 people.

It is currently open for business as usual under the new Tier 4 measures in London.

A note on the website reads: “We’ve had to make some changes to make sure the market can operate safely. Please respect social distancing, wear a face mask or covering when inside and wash or sanitise your hands before entering.”

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