Asda is limiting the sale of fresh fruit and vegetables in its supermarkets amid major shortages of popular fresh food items.

Products like tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers are among those being restricted by the grocery chain.

This comes as pictures of empty store shelves surfaced on social media in recent days.

Many of these fresh fruit and vegetable products are imported from abroad, with items like lettuce, salad bags, broccoli, cauliflower and raspberries also under threat.

Morrisons said it would be introducing limits of two items per customer across tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, peppers from Wednesday.

Other supermarkets are understood to be considering similar temporary measures.

HeraldScotland: (PA) The UK appears to be experiencing fresh fruit and veg shortages(PA) The UK appears to be experiencing fresh fruit and veg shortages (Image: PA)

Why are there shortages of tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers?

The shortages have been blamed on extreme weather conditions in Spain and North Africa, very important regions for growing these foods.

The extreme weather includes floods, snow and hail, affecting harvesting and supplies.

An Asda spokesman said: “Like other supermarkets, we are experiencing sourcing challenges on some products that are grown in southern Spain and north Africa.

“We have introduced a temporary limit of three of each product on a very small number of fruit and vegetable lines, so customers can pick up the products they are looking for.”

High energy prices are also being blamed for shortages as farmers in the UK and Netherlands have cut back on their use of greenhouses to grow winter crops as the cost is too high.

The European heatwave last year also caused problems with the production of onions which are usually grown in the summer and put in storage.

READ MORE: Why are tomatoes in short supply? Morrisons and Tesco face shortage

How long will shortages of fresh fruit and vegetables last?

Director of Food and Sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, Andrew Opie said that the disruption was expected to last for "a few weeks".

Adding that supermarkets are "adept at managing supply chain issues and are working with farmers to ensure that customers are able to access a wide range of fresh produce".

'Myriad of individual factors' causing shortages

Nigel Jenney, chief executive of the Fresh Produce Consortium, which represents hundreds of businesses said: "There's been a myriad of individual factors", adding that producers have suffered from "Weather, fuel costs, packaging and distribution costs, energy costs."

Growers and suppliers in Morocco have had to contend with cold temperatures, heavy rain, flooding and cancelled ferries over the past three to four weeks – all of which have affected the volume of fruit reaching Britain.

Supplies from Britain’s other major winter source, Spain, have also been badly affected by weather.

Production problems in Morocco began in January with unusually cold night-time temperatures that affected tomato ripening.

These were compounded by ferry cancellations due to bad weather, hitting lorry deliveries.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the UK has suffered particularly badly from the shortage as other European countries show little sign of empty shelves.

Experts suggest that the UK could be suffering more because of lower domestic production and complex supply chains.