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'The supermarkets don't want to pay, and local shops are loving it': The real story behind the tomato shortage

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At just before 8am on Thursday morning this week, Simon Conley, who runs Fountain Fresh at New Smithfield Market, the Manchester arm of a large Spanish import company, was packing up having started his day at midnight.

He’d sold eight pallets of tomatoes that morning, with 50 boxes of tomatoes on each pallet, leaving a couple left for tomorrow and another delivery in transit.

I ask him how much that is in money. He stabs a few numbers into his iPhone and holds up the result. It’s about £18,000 sold that morning alone.

Yes, there is a shortage of tomatoes, he says, so the prices have gone up. But are his shelves bare? Absolutely not. New Smithfield is laden with tomatoes, thousands upon thousands of them, boxes piled high in every wholesaler you care to wander past.

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