Britain is facing a custard shortage after crops in Southern Europe were devastated by unusual freezing weather, it has emerged.
Custard prices in supermarkets have already more than doubled, and retail experts say shelves could be empty by the end of the week.
Households now face the prospect of enduring family favourites like apple pie or rhubarb crumble without the tasty yellow sauce.
Problems emerged in Southern Europe, especially Spain and parts of Italy, where weeks of snow and ice caused the custard plant crop to fail in large areas.
The recent harvest produced a record low yield, and import prices have increased substantially – and become rare as supplies run out.
Shoppers are only just getting over the devastating courgette crisis, after the long green veg was also hit by inclement weather.
Suffolk shopper Lorraine Fisher, 34, said: “I was in Aldi yesterday and there was no custard left. Staff said there was a shortage and they did not know when they would get any more in. It’s disgusting.”
But retail experts said the shortage will not last long. Ryan Fraser, head of Food Imports and Distribution Inc., said: “The custard crops in the UK have not been affected the by weather, and it looks like the harvest here, expected in March, will be fine.”
Chefs say shoppers should try alternative sweet sauces, like chocolate or toffee. “British custard is out of season in winter, so it’s not something we should simply expect all year round,” said Justine Kahn, head chef at the Tower Hotel in Framlingham.
A Suffolk Gazette supermarket survey today found very few custard supplies in the region. There were only a few tubs of Ambrosia custard left at the Tesco store in Martlesham, near Ipswich, while Asda in Bury St Edmunds had run out completely.
Sainsbury said it had been forced to raise prices of 300g Bird’s Custard from 98p to £3.10 to cover costs, while Asda in Felixstowe said it had run out but hoped to get at least one pallet of custard in later this week.
Custard is made by extracting oils from the pretty custard flower and mixing with sugar and flour.
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