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 regarding your menu and budgetary requirements.
Food Crisis Update
Believe it or not, it is a year since the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme in the summer of 2020. While the rules have relaxed a little, some challenges remain when it comes to supply lines and logistics.
Food distributors across the UK have seen a turbulent year, facing rising costs in many areas, including driver shortages. This has been exacerbated by increases in agency staff rates and courier costs, steep wage increases across transport and other roles, National Living Wage increases, growing fuel costs, and the price of utilities more than doubling in the past 12 months. Furthermore, additional paperwork requirements for imports as a result of Brexit will be implemented in the autumn, and these are liable to cause further issues in the supply chain.
Many suppliers are facing a crisis within their businesses to not only recruit new staff but also to retain existing staff. This comes at a cost, pay rises have been given without even being requested. This is resulting in higher than average costs than the previous year’s seasons.
Potatoes remain reasonably stable, as the weather isn’t too extreme yet, the only thing to mention is transport situation is affecting costs. They are all coming through in good supply and good quality.
Root Vegetables & Brassicas
Sprouts will see a return to the marketplace as the early Christmas meals are booked.
English broccoli and cauliflower season has been excellent, and we will see some Spanish arrive over the next few weeks. Romanesco is also available a nice alternative to the usual Cauliflower and Broccoli, have a read on the buyer’s choice!
Early season Spanish Okitsu satsumas have now started, the Spanish clementines will start a little later.
The South African orange season is reaching an end as the Spanish orange starts to come through.
The Spanish primo fiori lemons will also be starting very soon, we will be moving away from Turkish, South African, and Argentinian fruit.
Mid to late November we normally see South African stone fruit such as peaches, nectarines, plums, and a little later apricots.
Italian plums will still be available but keep their hand to mouth as quality and shelf can be reduced. Again, prices will rise and they are typically smaller than the Spanish and Italian fruit.
Melons & Berries
Spanish melon season has now finished, and we are onto southern hemisphere Brazilian melon. Prices will be increasing due to higher transport costs.
UK berry season is coming to an end apart from a few glasshouse growers. Strawberries will move over to Dutch and Belgian which have limited supply and we will see prices rocket for a good few weeks until the Egyptian supply starts.
The French season is well underway, and the Southern Hemisphere is coming to an end. The quality remains excellent and the later starting varieties like the Braeburn and Red Delicious will be available.
Salads & Herbs
UK lollo rosso, oakleaf and biondi is coming to an end and will be moving over to French imported leaf. The quality will be fantastic but expect prices to nearly double, which is nothing unusual – it happens every year.
Imported herbs and salad leaves have seen a jump in price as packaging and other costs have increased.
The Spanish season for salads is imminently due to start as we move over from the UK and Dutch grown produce.
We have seen quite a few milk price increases announced recently with the dairies we work with, which will be welcome news for many to help counter the relentless rise in farm input costs.
Grain Supply & Poly Bottles
While some of the pressure has come out of the grain markets, prices remain high. On top of that, the issues in the energy sector mean prices for, fuel energy and fertiliser are set to increase, in addition to processor increased costs e.g. packaging including poly bottles, transport labour all look set to increase. What remains to be seen is whether the milk price increases will be sufficient to cover these increased costs.