A FORMER supermarket chief has blamed shortages of fresh produce on Brexit and a failure of the UK Government to help growers with soaring energy costs.

Tesco has now followed Aldi, Asda and Morrisons in introducing customer limits on certain fresh produce as shortages leave supermarket shelves bare.

The UK’s biggest supermarket has introduced a temporary buying limit of three items per customer on tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers as a precautionary measure.

Poor weather conditions in Europe have been blamed for impacting the production of crops such as tomatoes and cucumbers.

Speaking on LBC Justin King, former chief executive at Sainsbury's, said while that had meant a massive interruption to supplies, in the past there would have been production all year round in the UK.

READ MORE: Supermarket vegetable shortage 'could last for months'

He said: “In north Kent, in Thanet, [there are] the largest greenhouses in Europe, which used to be full of cucumbers, peppers, and tomatoes.

“In fact Sainsbury’s … used to have year-round British tomatoes, grown in those greenhouses.

“But those greenhouses have suffered, really, from two big things…it’s a sector that’s been hurt horribly by Brexit.

“But by far the biggest issue for that sector has been the government chose not to make it part of this energy support package this week.”

King said the National Farmers' Union had been warning for months that without support on energy it has not been “economically viable to produce under glass during this winter this year in the UK”.

Liz Webster, chair of Save British Food, also told GMB that Brexit was having an impact on the shortages.

She said: “We have had absolute negligence from the government who do not care about food production or food supply or anything. They believe the supermarkets should sort it out.

“But ultimately the government delivered Brexit, what they should have done is put far more focus on growing food in Britain to actually give us that cushion for supply.”

She added: “To destroy food production is very, very quick. To ramp it up takes a long time.”

Tesco said it was working hard with its suppliers to ensure a good supply of vegetables for customers in light of temporary supply challenges on some lines due to adverse weather conditions abroad.

Aldi has placed limits of three units per person on peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes as retailers warned the shortages – although expected to be temporary – were likely to last weeks.

READ MORE: Why supermarkets like Tesco and Aldi have empty fruit and veg shelves right now

Asda has introduced a customer limit of three on tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, lettuce, salad bags, broccoli, cauliflower and raspberries, and Morrisons has set a limit of two items per customer across tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce and peppers.

Other supermarkets are understood to be considering similar temporary measures.

Patricia Gibson MP, SNP environment and farming spokesperson, said: “With each passing day, the damage of the Tories’ Brexit Britain obsession continues to hit.

“Currently, supermarkets across the four nations are being forced to ration fruit and vegetables – and Brexit is at the root of much of it.

"Regardless of what the Tories and pro-Brexit Labour say, there is only one way to fix this: re-joining the European Union and Single Market.

“That is why there can be no doubt the only way to protect Scotland from the long-term damage of Brexit is to become an independent country.”