We are currently seeing demand drop off on certain produce since Christmas. Mainly due to the fact with various variants of the infection are on the increase, it is, unfortunately, reducing the numbers of those eating out.
There have been some global sea freight issues due to the lack of equipment, container imbalance and a rapid increase in volumes that has created serious equipment repositioning issues. Resulting in severe deterioration of equipment supply at source, newly built containers can only be bought at high prices with slow delivery, securing equipment for programmed volumes will be key.
Key export trade freight rates have increased dramatically with many routes hitting level records highs. Carriers have started to assign priority to cargo based on freight rate revenues as well as their premium products (higher pricing). There has been a tremendous increase in BAF rate, which is the ‘Bunker Adjustment Factor’, a fee which shipping lines charge.
There hasn’t been any movement on potatoes, demand has dropped off a little since the Christmas period. Potatoes are all cold-stored now and typically we will see prices rise so one to watch out for.
Brassicas are in good supply currently, but all depend on the current port delay issues. The weather plays a massive part in supply and demand at this time of year.
We will see the Brazilian melon season come to an end towards the end of February and Costa Rican fruit will be available. Shipping costs are increasing and will affect the fruit imported via container from other countries.
South African plums are still available, their eating quality is excellent. Chilean season plums will arrive soon but are no comparison and do not ripen the same.
New-season Chilean peach and nectarine are starting soon which are for cooking use only, unlike the South African, Spanish and Italian fruit this does not ripen as well.
We now have Turkish, Moroccan, Egyptian and Spanish citrus fruit available. So a good choice is available with different varieties to pick from. One to keep an eye out for is the Mandarin, Nadorcott, it is a fruit with great depth of flavour and sweetness and a good acidity balance. The smooth, deep orange peel is fairly tightly adhering to the segments but is easily removed.
Also, make use of the blood orange while it is in season. The Spanish Red skin Sanguinelli will be arriving soon.
The Cox apple will start to increase in price as the fruit is now cold-stored with smart gas. This classic English apple, is often regarded as the finest of all dessert apples. It arose in England in the 19th century as a chance seedling and has inspired apple lovers ever since. It remains unsurpassed for its richness and complexity of flavour. UK Cox apples start to dry up in March or April depending on demand, but the new season for New Zealand Cox starts shortly after albeit with a very short shelf life. UK Bramley apples will be available all year.
One to watch once when demand settles. The banana industry has suffered dramatic international price increases from the following: Carton boxes (+13%), Fertilizers: DAP (+77%), UREA (+58%), Bunker fuels M.G.O (37%), Petroleum (+63%), Resin: LDPE (+84%), PP (133%) and lumber. Port congestion and disruptions, operational challenges and volume have resulted in heavy congestion in terminals globally. This has resulted in: vessel delays, sliding departures, lost sailings, low schedule reliability and increased port staying, consequently delaying vessel and equipment turnaround. Heavy congestion is also impacting intermodal and the trucking industry.
Salads are doing well with the milder weather, there is no real change in supply currently. This is an ideal opportunity to mention a few to add to your menu’s, including, Lollo Rosso, with its dark copper red, crinkled frilly leaves, it makes a colourful addition to any salad and has a refreshing taste.
Another to mention is the Oakleaf lettuce, which is a type of butter lettuce, with leaves that measure from 10 to 15cm. It has colourful borders of autumn and red shades and is best used as a garnish. This type of lettuce is meant to accompany delicate flavours, and it can be both cooked or stuffed.