Could the Iceland volcano cause a fresh fruit shortage?
Here's a thing. Most of the fresh fruit and veg on sale in our supermarkets isn't in season in the UK right now; farmers elsewhere in the world are meeting our demands. Even then, our farmers don't grow most the stuff; ninety-five per cent of the fruit and half of the vegetables we buy Britain are imported.
Perishables are transported by air as well as road - it's a trend that's increased during the recession, with a need to fulfill and re-supply smaller orders. A lot of fresh fruit has been imported by air for several years; depending on the time of year, avocados, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, peaches, pears, plums, kiwi fruit and more besides. There are other perishables likes flowers; the UK is the second biggest importer of fresh roses and other flowers from Ethiopia, all imported by air.
So what will no air traffic into the UK for three days mean for supermarkets? It may mean fresh fruit and some vegetables disappearing from the shelves for a short spell, possibly for longer than three days. Hauliers in Europe may have been quick to switch tactics and transfer their cargo from air to road. But then there's the problem of reaching the UK by sea; demand increases for a limited supply of ferry and cargo crossings, and food spoils in the meantime.
Of course a fricking volcano in Iceland isn't going to stop rutting great tankers docking with supplies of cheap jeans and Tawainese lead-based toys, but you might notice some gaps on the shelves in the supermarket over the coming days. Good news if you're into gooseberries and rhubarb and six month-old apples, though.