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Wales faces leek shortage ahead of St David’s Day

Joanna Taylor
·2-min read
 (AFP/Getty Images )
(AFP/Getty Images )

Wales is facing a leek shortage as the nation prepares to celebrate St David’s Day on 1 March.

The vegetable is one of the national symbols of Wales and is traditionally worn as a badge and eaten in such dishes as cawl and leek and potato soup to mark the patron saint’s feast day.

But farmers have warned that the UK’s supply of leeks has almost run out, in part due to a 15 per cent surge in demand as more people cook from home during the pandemic.

British Leek Growers’ Association Chairman Stewart Aspinall said that the “unexpected growth in demand coupled with a harsh spring in 2020” means that suppliers are having to import leeks from countries such as the Netherlands to “fill the void”.

Tim Casey, who grows leeks in Lincolnshire, said supermarkets were being forced to import leeks from Spain and Turkey to ensure orders are fulfilled.

“It’s not so bad bringing them from Belgium, Holland perhaps, which would be a couple of days on a lorry and of course now you’ve probably got a day at Dover,” he said.

“But from Turkey you’ve got two or three days over land before you even get to the Channel, so the freshness definitely won’t be there.”

For the first time in 20 years, the St David’s Day Parade won’t go ahead in Cardiff because of Covid-19 restrictions. The parade’s chairman, David Petersen, urged people to forgo leeks in favour of bread and water if they’re unable to get their hands on one.

“St David was renowned for eating just bread and water only,” he said. “So we are encouraging people to have a St David’s Day lunch of bread and water, and donate the cost difference between that and what they would normally eat to the Marie Curie cancer charity.”

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