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, fish, fresh produce and much more 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.
With areas of Southern England being placed in drought status for the first time since 2018, there will be serious problems for all areas of fresh produce. The AHDB reports that grass growing is a problem which will affect livestock and dairy yields, whilst there are obvious impacts for harvest of fruit vegetables and cereals. Even celebrity farmer Jeremy Clarkson, was forced to stop harvesting due to the risk of fire.
It is also likely that the UK will feel the effects of the drought in Italy, according to The Fresh Produce Journal. The River Po, Italy’s longest river, is experiencing its worst drought for 70 years, and farmers have reported such a weak flow that seawater is apparently seeping inland and destroying crops.
Looking ahead, The Guardian has reported fears that future hot summers could affect Britain’s food security as growers experience the impacts of the climate crisis, with growers seeing fruit and veg dying on the vine, ruining harvests this year.
“It’s not just fruit – we lost entire plantings of peas, entire sowings of broad beans, things like baby spinach was lost, salad heads were lost,” said Vernon Mascarenhas, who runs the fruit and vegetable wholesaler Nature’s Choice at New Covent Garden Market in London.
The Caterer has said that Hospitality operators have been hit by “horrendous” quarterly VAT bills and have warned more venues will close unless the government cuts the tax.
VAT on hospitality returned to its pre-pandemic rate of 20% in April after it was temporarily lowered during 2020. Restaurant owners and hoteliers have described facing huge bills while struggling with rising food, energy, and wage costs.
In a move to help reduce food waste The Grocer states that from September, supermarkets such as Waitrose will remove dates on produce like root vegetables, grapes, citrus and apples, to reduce the volume of household food waste by encouraging customers to use their own judgement.
All ten food and drink categories in the Index moved upwards year-on-year, with three—Fruit, Dairy and Oils & Fats—recording inflation of more than 20%. Several categories surged month-on-month as the impacts on key commodities from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continued to mount.
British apples are at their best from September through to November. Look for firm fruit, with no blemishes, bruising or wrinkles. But don’t discard an apple with dry brown patches as it’s just from overexposure to sunlight and won’t affect the quality.
Nectarines and Peaches are also coming to the end of their season in September, however British varieties of Plums are in season from mid-August to October.
The weather might not make you feel like roast chestnuts over an open fire, but they are coming, with the freshest being harvest at the end of September. These fruit nuts are the perfect addition to your Autumn- Winter Menus pairing them with roasts, pasta roulades and casseroles.
The bright orange favourite for Halloween is incoming, with the freshest harvests coming from late September, ready for your spooky menus.
Make the most of the end of UK berry season as all the tangy berries such as strawberries, raspberries, redcurrants, gooseberries and loganberries are ending their British seasons around early September. Therefore expect a price increase as these fall out of season.
These are falling out of season at the end of August, with their taste not being as sweet and fresh.
Root & Brassica
Farmers of root vegetables have spoken about difficulties caused by early harvesting after the grain season only had 35% of its long-term average rainfall.
Carrot and Fennel are ending their best seasons in September, whilst Celeriac, Parsnips and Leeks are coming into the season ready for Winter.
Kale is best from mid-September, perfect for Autumn/Winter dishes like creamy pasta, pies and soups.
The East Yorkshire-based British Potato Trade Association (BPTA) said the heatwave had compromised the “yield and quality” of potato crops. North Yorkshire grower John Bannister said his crop was down 40%, with the next harvest “looking horrendous”. He says: “A potato is over 80% water, so it’s not hard to see why there’s a problem given the dry conditions.
Spinach is an all-year rounder but is at its best from April to September, so it will be coming out of season soon. When choosing your spinach produce, go for bright green leaves that are tender but crisp. Avoid any that are wilting or yellowing.
Watercress is available all year round but is at its best from April until September.
Sweetcorn is in season between mid-August to mid-September. Look for corn still in its husk, as it keeps it fresher for longer. Look for kernels that are tightly packed, plump, shiny and golden yellow.
The AHDB has said that they’re seeing a prolonged downtrend in lamb demand with double-digit percentage drops so far this year. Other red meat sectors are also likely to see a drop in demand, albeit at more modest levels as high inflation affects consumer habits and spending.
“It feels like we’re approaching a tipping point. Squeezed margins, high inflation and significantly lower direct payments. Planning, budgeting and monitoring will be the order of the day for the next 12 months,” said David Eudall, AHDB Economics and Analysis Director.
AHDB states that in the finished market, average prices for store cattle have remained firm against long-term averages. However, while the finished price has generally strengthened during the first half of 2022, store prices have generally moved sideways, tracking closer to year-ago levels.
Store sheep prices have also generally continued strongly against long-term averages, despite coming under some pressure in recent weeks. The new season store price averaged £81/head in the four weeks to 30 July, 2% above where it was at this point a year ago.
A traditional Christmas meat, Goose is available from the end of September until January. Look for a goose that is plump, with pale, unblemished skin and a layer of fat underneath. To note: A good indication of a Goose’s age is to check its bill. If it’s flexible, then it is young.
Guinea Fowl are best between September and November. Remember that these birds are naturally drier than chicken so when cooking them for your menu selection try not to overcook them.
The recent inflation in consumer prices for milk, butter and cheese follows the large step change in milk prices paid by dairy processors needed to secure the required milk supplies. Since Oct-21, there has been a notable shift in the rate which consumer prices for dairy products have risen.
GB milk production is forecast to finish the 2022/23 season between 1% and 3.8% lower year on year, depending on the severity of cash flow pressures.
Butter prices eased in July. Demand was reported as quiet as the summer holiday period began. Sourcing affordable cream is still a challenge for some manufacturers making inventories tight.
Cheese production in Jan-May 2022 was up a little on the same period in 2021, but production of butter and milk powders was down. Overall, cheese availability appears to have improved slightly.
Keep up to date with the industry with our reports.