Each month at Menu Fresh we provide expert information on the fresh produce sector from across the United Kingdom, Europe, and the Global markets. We aim to provide advice for owners and chefs on market movements, product changes and seasonal trends, to enable you to make informed choices when it comes to your menu and budgetary requirements.
The problems of import and export, staffing and transportation are still affecting prices. Where we mention prices are good or holding steady, this is often likely to mean they are much higher than this period in other years. However, there is still some great value and quality to be found in the market, so read on…
Washed whites have started to increase in demand as the markets are picking up.
Chipping potato yields are slightly down but still readily available. The farmers have harvested all the crops and they are cold storing for the next 7 to 8 months. The French potato crop has been down a little, so they are looking to buy from the UK market, this may push prices up in the UK markets over the coming months.
Salad potatoes/mids and bakers remain steady and have good availability.
Root Vegetables & Brassicas
UK broccoli will be coming to an end in the next few weeks and Spanish has already started to be imported. The Main volumes will start to come through over the next few weeks.
UK cauliflower remains readily available, and prices remain steady, Spanish cauliflower will also start to come through more and more now. A milder, dryer winter will keep availability good and prices steady.
Seasonal items We also see a huge increase on parsnips, carrots, potatoes, and sprouts for all the Christmas meals, which we hope to be able to share with larger families this year. It is also worth mentioning that a few other seasonal items such as fresh cranberries and chestnuts and the January king cabbage are also available.
While we currently rely on the Dutch and Belgian strawberry supply, we will soon be moving over to the typically larger Egyptian fruit.
Raspberry and blueberry will remain good quality whilst blackberry quality may suffer due to the fruit, which comes from Mexico, tending to have softer red cell fruit, which reduces its shelf life, so one to watch. The US is having a lot more imported blackberry as it is cheaper to export from Mexico so prices will be sharp on blackberry for the UK and European markets.
Italian Angelino plums are coming to an end, while we wait for the South African fruit to arrive along with the Peach, Nectarine and Apricot. South African stone fruit growers experienced a good winter and a very mild to cool spring thus far, with new orchards coming into production, which is good news for supply.
“The start of this citrus season has been marked by historically low demand”
The Spanish citrus season, which kicked off in September with the first extra-early mandarins, is currently underway with more consistent quantities, although with lower volumes compared to this same time in the previous season.
Although clementine sales are taking off slightly, there is still a concern in this area with higher production and handling costs the biggest worry.
We are waiting on the first frosts from Italy for the Blood oranges to be ready, see the buyer choice for a little more information.
Seville oranges will also be available at the end of December/beginning of January for homemade Marmalade making. It’s only a short season up to 4 weeks, so jump on it quickly.
All the fresh apple varieties are now available with Pink Lady added to the list. There are also other European apples available from Serbia, Spain and Italy which can only help the marketplace prices. All are of excellent quality.
Pears have remained higher than previous years as was previously reported due to the lower yield across Europe.
We are now working with Italian, French and Spanish imported leaves. Prices remain higher than last year due to the increase in production, labour and fuel costs. Quality remains excellent.
The UK dairy industry has faced rapid change through 2021 as it adjusts to a new trade relationship with the EU and the impacts of the pandemic on consumption patterns.
Rising costs have also been a key feature of the year, with higher feed costs impacting milk production and more recent spikes in energy costs influencing the whole supply chain. Weighing on production levels in the UK, are rising costs of the ‘big three’ – feed, fertiliser and fuel.
Farmgate milk prices will continue to rise given the pressures on margins through the supply chain.
Prices have seen a surge in the second half of the year with more on the way. Availability is also tight, as milk production is subdued, and the beginning of the potting season is keeping volumes off the market.
Prices also moved up on the back of rising cream prices and firm demand. However, butter prices do not offer a return on cream prices, keeping churns inactive and supplies tight. Although there is not a clear view on stock levels, sellers are reported to be hesitant to sell off stocks due to concerns around milk production through the winter.
The market for mild cheddar has finally seen some sizable movement after holding relatively stable for the past couple of years.
The shortage of milk, and milk fats, has seen curd prices rise and generated increased activity in cheese markets. With retail demand remaining strong, cheese supplies in both the UK and EU are tight.
Adding to the mix is a view that milk deliveries will remain short for some time, which has shifted sentiment in the market and kick-started some additional buying activity.