Supermarkets using cardboard cutouts of fruit and vegetables to mask food shortages were ridiculed online by social media users today.
Customers at stores including Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Boots poked fun at the shops with photos of fake food in the place of empty shelves.
Issues in supply chains have hit many retailers, from toy shops and petrol stations to food shops.
One Twitter user wrote: ‘Mmmm, delicious photos of asparagus,’ while another commented on an enlarged picture of the vegetable piled up, ‘I love that asparagus grows to this size in the UK. It’s our climate, I’m sure.’
Supermarkets including Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Boots have used cardboard cutouts of food as a way to supposedly hide empty shelves
Boots at Croydon Whitgift Centre used empty triangular cardboard boxes to bolster their sandwich aisle
Tesco used photos of asparagus, oranges, carrots and grapes printed on cardboard panels instead of offering its customers the real thing.
Meanwhile, Boots at Croydon Whitgift Centre used empty triangular cardboard boxes to bolster their sandwich shelves.
Shoppers saw cardboard asparagus in London, pictures of oranges and grapes in Milton Keynes, fake carrots in Fakenham, and 2D bottles of washing liquid bottles in Cambridge.
Social media users poked fun at shops using photographs of produce to compensate for empty shelves
Twitter user Cait McLaughlin joked ‘Mmmm delicious photo of asparagus’ as a picture of the vegetable was pasted on a cardboard cutout
Sainsbury’s also employed outline drawings of packaging to fill its empty shelves.
Low wages and shortages of workers in part owing to Brexit and Covid has left Britain with a shortage of HGV drivers as well as fruit pickers on farms and food processing staff at factories.
Although some experts hope in the long-term this will drive up wages for British workers, the short term consequence of the shortages included bare aisles at supermarkets.
It wasn’t just food but washing liquid bottles as well that got the two-dimensional treatment in some of Britain’s supermarkets
Empty shelves in a Sainsburys supermarket in London Colney, Hertfordshire. Millions of shoppers have been unable to buy essential foods in recent weeks
Yet Food and Drink Federation chief Ian Wright said supply chain issues will continue to cause issues in Britain.
He said: ‘It’s going to get worse, and it’s not going to get better after getting worse any time soon.’
Speaking to listeners at an event organised by the Institute for Government, he added: ‘The result of the labour shortages is that the just-in-time system that has sustained supermarkets, convenience stores and restaurants – so the food has arrived on a shelf or in the kitchen, just when you need it – is no longer working.
A survey of 1,000 consumers by The Grocer revealed that two thirds of shoppers were either worried or ‘very worried’ by potential shortages of food and drink ahead of the festive season
Early shoppers pictured at Costco in Manchester. Britain has been plagued by a series of crises in recent weeks, with soaring gas prices and HGV shortages causing chaos
A shopper is pictured pushing a trolley loaded with toilet roll and water bottles outside Costco in Manchester
‘And I don’t think it will work again, I think we will see we are now in for permanent shortages.’
The farm-to-fork supply chain is missing around half a million of the four million people that usually work in the sector.
Mr Wright said staff shortage did not mean the UK would run out of food but said higher-margin products would be prioritised by retailers.
Issues in supply chains have hit many retailers, from toy shops and petrol stations to food shops. Pictured: Empty shelves at a supermarket in London
‘That’s a first-world problem. Nobody’s going to be completely bereft if they can’t get bottled water,’ he said.
‘But what is changing now is that the UK shopper and consumer could have previously have expected just about every product they want to be on a shelf or in the restaurant all the time. That’s over, and I don’t think it’s coming back.’
A Tesco spokesman told MailOnline: ‘For the images that contain fresh food, we have these available for selected large stores to use when there is additional space.
‘These have been in use for many months now and are not connected to the recent supply chain challenges. Overall availability remains strong.’
A Sainsbury’s spokeswoman said: ‘Our colleagues and suppliers are working hard to make sure customers can find everything they need when they shop with us.
‘Availability in some product categories may vary but alternatives are available and stores continue to receive deliveries daily.’
Boots have been contacted for comment.