Iceland boss says fruit and veg shortage will end soon as he picks up OBE

The boss of supermarket chain Iceland has said shortages of fresh fruit and vegetables will end within a fortnight as he received an OBE from the Princess Royal.

Richard Walker, its 42-year-old executive chairman, said the company’s efforts to get supplies back on track were going to plan as he received his award at Windsor Castle on Wednesday morning.

He told the PA news agency: “There have been so many challenges in the last couple of years and I am very proud of our 30,000 colleagues.

“We have had product supply shortages before with loo rolls in the pandemic and all the panic buying.

Richard Walker chats to the Princess Royal
Richard Walker chats to the Princess Royal (Yui Mok/PA)

“And now we have had really bad crop harvests in Morocco and Spain and it is a challenge.

“But fresh salads are starting to come back on shelves and we are pretty confident that in the next week or two that fresh veg will be back to typical availability as well — or you can buy frozen.”

Mr Walker’s OBE for services to business and the environment sees him follow in the footsteps of his father Sir Malcolm Walker, who co-founded Iceland in 1970 and received a CBE in 1995 and a knighthood in 2017.

He said: “My father is from Yorkshire and he is a pretty tough businessman so he does not give out praise lightly but I think he was actually genuinely very proud and he said so.

Richard Walker with Princess Anne
Richard Walker said Anne was asking about Iceland’s quest to remove plastics (Yui Mok/PA)

“That was also obviously really nice for me to see that reaction.”

Mr Walker added that his attention would now turn to Iceland’s bid to halve plastic and food waste and achieve carbon neutrality by 2040.

“Princess Anne was asking all about our quest to remove plastics and how we remove palm oil,” he said.

“But she also very acutely noticed that our customers cannot afford to pay a penny more for these privileges.

“So trying to do any environmental moves like reducing food waste or palm oil or plastics have to be cost-neutral for our customers.

“We cannot charge them more for the privilege.”