Tesco and Sainsbury's have been roundly mocked on social media for hiding shelf shortages with cardboard cut-outs.

Empty fruit and veg crates were spotted covered with convincing pictures of missing items including asparagus.

A viral Twitter post sparked interest in the fad, which shoppers soon spotting similar cut-outs at numerous supermarkets, DorsetLive reported.

User Patrick Dalton tweeted: "Tesco have the fake asparagus out this morning".

Sharon Dale replied with pics from her local Sainsbury's, where pasta boxes were replaced with dull orange cartoon shapes.

She wrote: "Sainsbury’s aren’t even trying to make it look genuine".

One unimpressed shopper replied drolly: "Is dried pasta out of season too?"

Sherborne shopper Sharon told Dorset Live she felt it was important to raise awareness about food shortages.

She said: "I have been reading a lot of comments about empty shelves and the cause (or lack of).

"I thought it was a strange choice. I am already in Sainsbury’s so don’t need branded reminders.

"It draws attention to the lack of stock if anything."

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Complications around Brexit and HGV driver shortages have been blamed for long queues at petrol stations and supply issues in supermarkets.

'Replaced' items include fake carrots in Fakenham, cardboard asparagus in London, pics of oranges and grapes in Milton Keynes and cardboard washing liquid bottles in Cambridge, The Guardian reported.

EU hauliers are only allowed to make a maximum to two trips per week for goods deliveries between UK locations.

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The Department for Transport has announced plans to relax those rules shortly in order to avoid a Christmas nightmare.

Yet as serious as the consequences are, supermarkets' failed attempts to hide just how much they're struggling to pull in stock are hard not to chuckle at.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Times Radio: “Christmas will go ahead. We’ll be able to see our friends and families.

"There will be food, there will be gifts."

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