Looking for information to help build your menus and keep on top of your GP? Each month the Menu Fresh Market Report aims to provide information on meat, dairy and fresh produce, reporting industry and market news across the United Kingdom, Europe, and the rest of the world.
Here, we can advise you and your chefs on market movements, product changes and seasonal trends to help you make an informed choice.
The cost of living crisis has impacted families’ ability to feed their children. There has been increasing lobbying for the expansion of free school meals provision, notably the Feed the Future campaign backed by the likes of Tom Kerridge, Jamie Oliver, LACA and Chefs in Schools, calling for all children of families on Universal Credit to be eligible for free school meals.
It is warned that UK fruit and vegetable growers are under “massive pressure” due to soaring energy costs and workforce shortages. The government faces a choice – back British food production and secure a steady supply of home-grown food, or risk seeing more empty shelves in the supermarkets.
Train strikes have continued this month, impacting rail travel up and down the country, causing bookings for hospitality to be cancelled and party sizes to be reduced. The days affected are December 16th and 17th, and January 3rd, 4th, 6th and 7th. The strikes will take place across 14 major railway operators for 48-hour periods. Keep aware of any updates here.
An all-year rounder, lemons are at their best from January to March. Store them in a fridge for longer shelf life. Once cut, wrap them and store in the fridge for up to four days.
Rhubarb is forced into season from January to early February. Rhubarb wilts quite quickly – store it in the fridge and serve within a couple of days. Keep the leaves on until serving, as they’ll help keep it fresh.
This is the last season for pears, as they are in season from September to January. Pears are delicate and can bruise easily when ripened. Remember, pears ripen from the inside out, so when they’re ready to be eaten, they should be slightly softening, not mushy.
Dates are coming out of season with January being the last month they are at their freshest.
All apple types, such as GrannySmith, GoldenDelicious, Bramley are still best in season, with Braeburn coming to an end in January.
The demand for clementines is still strong, whilst supply is lower this year due to the impact of the heat and the lack of rainfall in Summer 22.
The mild autumn has caused much of the UK’s green vegetable and potato crops to grow early, leading to a glut and a large amount of waste, and fears of shortages early next year.
Cabbages, cauliflower and broccoli that were supposed to be ready in December or January were ready earlier than expected, causing them to be torn up, thrown away or used elsewhere. Followed by the cold snap the UK experience in early December, vegetables have suffered stunted growth.
The dry summer has influenced yields and availability of certain crops, such as leeks, carrots and potatoes, which are short in supply and currently relying on imported crop from Belgium, Spain, France and Turkey.
An all-year rounder, Chicory is at its best from January to mid-March. Look for firm, crisp leaves and avoid those with green tips, as they’ll be very bitter.
Due to poor fields, leeks are short in stock in the UK, relying on imported produce from Belgium, Spain, France, and Turkey.
These crunchy root vegetables are at their best from November into March. Choose the best ones that are pale brown, less knobbly and look fresh and firm. Jerusalem Artichoke are great in soups, gratin, and risottos.
This is the last season for juicy beetroot, when choosing your ingredients, look for ones that are unblemished with bright green leaves that are not wilting.
Onions suffered poor yields causing the availability of large onions to be a challenge going into Spring. Onion pricing not expected to increase in January but must remain vigilant.
The cold weather experienced across the UK has damaged any spears above ground, causing these to be cut back for regrowth. This is expected to create a temporary shortage.
Overall, the UK poultry meat production was down by 0.8% at 181.7 tonnes in October 22, compared to the previous year. Bird flu is still on the rise as World Health Organization (WHO) have confirmed that a highly pathogenic avian influenza has spread to at least 4 countries in South America. Energy price inflation and supply chain disruption have added to the worst outbreak in avian influenza yet.
GB standard pig prices remain steady; however, they are still higher than the previous year. The UK has produced 88.34kg of pig meat in w/e 03/12/22 with Pig production being down compared to the previous week and down overall compared to the 2021.
Current GB Lamb Deadweight Standard Quality Quotation is rising in December, most likely due to demand over Christmas and a lower production amount of 50,696 heads for w/e 03/12/22. Input prices are still high, remaining significantly above 2021 figures.
GB deadweight prime cattle prices remain stable but are still considerably higher than in 2021. This is due to input prices from fuel and energy remaining high.
Just as the Christmas period ends, so too have Geese gone out of season. Substitute this bird with other poultry like chicken or duck for your winter warmers.
This is one of our more difficult periods for sourcing and availability due to poorer weather and the festive break. Cold waters favour many of the native wild species, but the poorer weather conditions do not favour the fishermen. Inclement weather can reduce fishing effort and therefore available volumes. Reduction in available volumes means higher pricing. Most fishing boats won’t prepare to fish again until around the 6th of January 2023.
Mussels should be running well, but lack of supply between Christmas and New Year due to shutdowns is usually an issue. Be prepared to accept frozen mussel substitutions during this time.
Supplies of refreshed haddock and cod for the week in between Christmas and New Year, and the first week back after New Year will be available. Quality should be good throughout the winter as the cold water strongly favours these species.
Dairy & Eggs
It has been warned that as the poultry industry grapples with spiralling costs and its worst-ever bout of bird flu, egg shortages and rationing in the UK are expected to last beyond Christmas. To deal with shortages, supermarkets across the UK have been rationing sales of eggs, limiting customers to one or two boxes each.
Milk productions are improving as production are 175m litres higher than previously forecasted by the AHDB in September. This was driven by a shift in the weather in autumn, causing more grass growth, supporting the milk to feed ratio.
Global grain markets felt overall pressure last week 2nd – 9th December, due to increasing competitive supplies from the Black Sea region and large production forecasts for Australia, as well as continued recessionary fears. UK prices have also felt the pressure, as natural gas prices are currently climbing as colder weather sees increased demand.
Get creative with themed menus and easy-to-host activities at your venues.
Check out these upcoming key dates in January.
All Month – Dry January: Health kicks and sobriety are on the horizon as the new year dawns. It’s time to get creative with your mocktails and offer a fun alternative to the classic G&T.
All Month – Veganuary: Veganuary has been a massive time of the year, growing as the years go on. This is the time people look to experiment with their meals, and try to eat ‘cleaner’ after the indulgent festive period. Make sure you have a few delicious vegan Chef’s Specials on your menus.
1st – New Year’s Day: With new year’s day landing on a Sunday, add some razzle dazzle to your roasts to welcome 2023!
22nd – Chinese New Year: Give your diners a nod to the Chinese New Year, by giving them a treat with little red bags of wrapped gold foil chocolate coins, symbolising wealth and prosperity for the new year.
25th – Burns Night: On the run-up to Burn’s Night, why not offer some traditional Scottish meals, from Cullen Skink to Haggis Burgers, try your hand at something a wee bit different.
26th – International Hot & Spicy Day: Some love it, some hate it, you could have some fun with this hot and spicy day by offering spicier alternatives to your more traditional dishes such as a hot chilli burger, or even host a spicy food challenge where diners compete to see who can handle the heat.