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 market movements, product changes and seasonal trends for our fresh categories, helping venues make informed decisions on their menus.
Weather disruptions continue from the three main suppliers for winter salad produce: Mainland Spain, the Canary Islands and Morocco. With unsettled weather coming from cold temperatures as low as 6°C, strong cold winds, and light rain.
As a result, most crops are at a standstill due to poor growth and maturation. This was exasperated further by the uncharacteristically higher temperatures at the beginning of the season, causing the crops to develop ahead of schedule.
Foodservice Price Inflation
Foodservice price inflation fell slightly to 22% in January, this marks the first drop in inflation since September 2021. It is expected that inflation will ease slowly over the course of 2023 as commodity pricing and the previous year’s impacts kick in.
Despite this drop, all categories of the index remain in double-digit inflation, with oil and fats recording the highest level of year-on-year increases at 42.4%, with milk, cheese and eggs at 37.7%.
Turning Point for Hospitality
Leading managed pubs, bar and restaurant groups achieved like-for-like sales growth of 10.9% in January 2023, 0.8pts ahead of the current rate of inflation. This compares to January 2022, when consumers were staying home in fear of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.
These figures show some good news as consumers remain keen to dine out despite the escalating concerns of disposable income.
Emergency Crop Report
We at Menu Fresh Ltd want you to always be ready and equipped to plan the most delicious and nutritious menus throughout the year. This is why we are sending out this warning for pricing and availability for critical situations.
Read our full report regarding availability and pricing for some of our temporarily delisted or limited SKUs.
In Season: Granny Smith Apples, Golden Delicious Apples, Bramley Apples, Bananas, Grapefruit, Lemons, Oranges, Pomegranates, Rhubarb
There is no change in cucumbers, with the supply still being limited. This is driven by the higher costs for heating which has caused growers to delay their planting schedules.
The demand for good quality is holding steady, particularly Spanish Primafiori varieties that despite some resistance are keeping stable price levels. Some lemons are now coming from Turkey to support the demand.
Overall, demand for the best quality Moroccan Nadorcotts has become stable. However, some isolated cases are showing more mixed quality with more scarring along the skin.
Quality for tomatoes has become worse, particularly on standard loose tomatoes. Some tomatoes are still being affected by mildew and botrytis caused by the rain and cold spell. Vine tomatoes are slowly recovering as supply increases and quality improves.
There is no sign of recovery yet, we are expecting that better temperatures will enable tomatoes to colour quicker, creating greater availability. Vine cherry tomatoes are the most challenging as they take longer to mature.
Availability for peppers remains tight, with growers still picking too early to meet demand. The consistently better weather should help increase production, but in the meantime, it is expected that green peppers are still the best colour for quality and supply.
In season: Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Pak Choi, Peppers, Potato, Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Spinach, Spring Greens, Radicchio, Watercress
The current availability and quality of aubergine are now stabilising. There may be some isolated issues with slight browning on the skin and possibly dry calyx caused by the cold snap.
The production of broccoli has slightly improved, with more growing and showing good quality, however, they are still smaller heads. Some will be slightly purple due to the cold, but this should not affect the overall quality.
The volume of celery is not improving, this is expected to continue until mid-March. However, the overall quality is decent with only some isolated cases of dry stick ends due to the colder conditions.
The volume for courgettes is steadily picking up with new crops being planted and overall quality improvement.
The overall quality and weight of lettuce are improving. There are still some isolated tip burns and damage to the outer leaves caused by the cold and humidity. Little gem and cos lettuce are still suffering from the recent weather and are more problematic with their shorter shelf life.
The first cabbages of the year are more tender with fresh heads and without the hard heart. When picking your spring greens, look for fresh, firm leaves and avoid wilted plants.
Current GB Standard Quality Quotation lamb prices have slightly increased in February (w/e 25th) by 0.4p/kg compared to the previous month. Production of lamb has increased with an average of 223,449 heads per week during the month, which is greater than the previous month.
The UK production of poultry increased by 40% with 104 million slaughters in January. With the continuance of avian influenza, Health officials are meeting to discuss Covid-style contingency plans to control the potential human-to-human spread which is a low risk of transmission from bird to human.
The standard pig price remains high in February (w/e 18th), up by 2.35p/kg compared to the previous month. UK pig meat production totalled approx. 160,000 heads, which is up by 7.6% compared to January.
The GB standard overall cow price has risen in February (w/e 25th), up by 12.1/kg compared to the previous month. The UK prime cattle production was estimated at approx. 170,000 in February, up 19% compared to the previous month.
Catches are expected to improve during March for large cod, haddock, and some other UK native whitefish. However, gales around Iceland and the North Sea in recent weeks have resulted in a significant reduction in imports as flights were cancelled and boats tied up. In March, we will begin to approach the spawning cycles of some white fish species causing prices to be cheaper for some species like coley.
Consistent with historical trends, salmon price increases are likely to run up to Easter. Trout supplies are to improve in March, but there could also be a price increase in April. Trout is the natural alternative for Salmon and will react to Salmon’s price volatility.
UK mussels will start to deteriorate from April onwards, so make use of them in March as it’s the last month we can guarantee consistent quality. Nativelobsters will start to show in late spring whilst the new season for Canadianlobsters commences at the end of March.
Dairy farmers are facing tough times as wholesale prices fall, causing some farm businesses to work at a loss with industry cost of production estimated around 43-45p/litre. Other dairy products such as cream, cheese and butter are following this decrease with prices marginally down compared to the previous month.
The UK egg sector is in danger if supermarkets and wholesaler turn to imported eggs. However, producers have warned that egg shortages may continue as the length of egg-laying cycles means production can not be turned on quickly.
Wheat prices have increased by £5.75/t in February (w/e 22nd) closing at £236.25/t for May 2023 contracts. Despite the recent escalations due to the war in Ukraine, and the concern over the continuance of the Black Sea export corridor, wheat prices are still on a downward trend.
Get creative with themed menus and easy-to-host activities at your venues.
Check out these upcoming key dates in March.
6th – 12th British Pie Week
Get those delicious homemade pies on your Chef Special Menus, from the traditional Chicken & Mushroom to the more adventurous Squash & Chorizo and try your hand at scrumptious pie fillings.
6th – 12th Butchers Week
A week to celebrate the great work done by butchers across the UK. This is the perfect time to publicly thank your local butchers by putting their names before specific meat dishes or in your menu descriptions.
4th – 7th International Women’s Week
This is a time to join the fight for women’s rights, educating yourself and the team to help build a greater understanding and opportunity for a safe and equal society for women in your company. You can do this by attending events, contributing time to a women’s initiative, or doing your own research online.
17th St Patricks Day Lean into this Irish day, by offering an array of Irish beer and whiskeys and traditional Irish dishes such as potato cakes, colcannon, or Irish stew.
17th Red Nose Day
Join the thousands of people up and down the country in the fight against poverty. Support this day by throwing a fundraiser. Try these fun activities throughout the week: Bake Sales, Dressing up in complete red, theme nights, quiz nights or even a 24-hour disco-a-thon.
19th Mother’s Day
Help your diners celebrate mum by offering a fantastic dining experience for families. Offer a free dessert for mums, give flowers and gifts for each table, play live music, and have activities to keep the kids occupied.
22nd Ramadan Begins
Your Muslim customers will fast until the sun sets (Iftar) and enjoy their last meal before the sun rises (Suhoor). Adjust your timings to suit your customer’s needs. Even consider if it is profitable enough for you to add a midnight slot to your opening hours.