Food and drink market update - Apr/May

11 April, 2024


While we have seen inflation slowing in recent months, it is worth re-iterating again that we are still in an inflationary environment and face ongoing product availability challenges.

Availability continues to be a growing concern and wet weather in the UK has impacted the supply of potatoes and root vegetables. In addition, it’s also impacting pricing on spring greens, monkfish and milk.

The Regency insights team continue to monitor market conditions and take proactive measures to limit the impact on the business.

Market movers:

Fruit and Veg

The gradual decline in potato availability, noted in previous months is beginning to become more pressing.

Lower temperatures in Morocco have impacted berry yields and size, with challenges expected to persist for another week or two. We anticipate the UK season to commence in early May, potentially improving availability.

Wet weather conditions have resulted in many fields being compromised and has raised concerns about spring greens availability. This may lead to a supply gap until the next fields are ready in approximately two or three weeks.

With the expectation of a fruitful rhubarb season, it presents viable alternatives to berries. The season is anticipated to extend until approximately the end of August.

Encouraging news for asparagus as the full British season has commenced, promising high-quality crops.

Tomatoes are in continuation of seasonal shoulder - quality should start to improve now week on week but there's reduced life and mixed maturity in some batches. Dutch origin tomatoes may be a more backwards in colour but also very delicate.

  • Tip: Order tomatoes less more frequently if possible during this period due to reduced life.

There are quality and shelf-life challenges with Spanish red, yellow and tri-colour peppers due to the difficult end of the Spanish season. Tending towards larger fruit with increased skin marking. Quality should improve now as we're starting to see some batches of Dutch fruit.

Spanish fruit (especially reds) are large in size and prone to breakdown at pressure points. Skins have increased silvering so will be more ‘scruffy’ in appearance overall

  • Tip: Avoid holding stock of peppers and order less more frequently if possible during this period as reduced life.

Suppliers are warning of delayed vessels out of Central/South America which is leading to some issues with banana ripening.

  • Tip: If bananas are still under colour, store in a warm room within the original sealed packaging for the quickest colour change.
Fish and Seafood

Haddock stocks are under pressure due to Biden’s recent ban on all Russian-origin fish. This has intensified demand for Norwegian haddock from the US market. We recommend avoiding Haddock on menus for now.

The ongoing annual fishing ban from 1st February to 31st March aimed at stock preservation has led to soaring prices for sea bass. With no fresh wild-caught available, the market has shifted towards frozen farmed options, resulting in inflation throughout fresh and frozen.

Current market conditions have resulted in significant price hikes for Cornish monkfish. Adverse weather conditions, including high winds and cold weather, have disrupted landings, contributing to supply-driven inflation in the market.

  • Tip: Coley prices are notably low, presenting an excellent alternative to the rising cost of haddock. Additionally, mackerel prices are declining as fishing patterns return to normal, offering a further cost-effective option.
Meat and Poultry

Poultry prices have remained relatively steady over the past 12 months. We are starting to see small increases in Red Tractor chickens from the UK as demand for poultry remains high.

Bird flu outbreaks in Poland are affecting the price of Polish chicken and turkey, especially in fillets and turkey breast.

EU pig prices have started increasing following six months of decline. The driving force behind this is due to an uplift in demand alongside continued tightening of supply.

Conversely, UK pig prices have not increased resulting in a reduction of the differential between UK and EU prices.

Sharp increase in Irish beef import volumes recorded in January, against competitive Irish beef and robust domestic demand. The marketplace appeared to remain stable despite this, with farmgate prices on an upward trajectory through January.

UK beef exports remained robust, with growth in shipments to non-EU destinations. Price differentials of GB and Irish cattle remain historically wide, the influence of this on import levels will be a key watchpoint.

  • Sustainability switch: Due to recent developments in the pig market with EU prices starting to rise and UK prices remaining stable, this presents an opportune moment for our clients to transition towards sourcing from UK suppliers. By prioritising UK supply, members can contribute to the local economy, reduce carbon emissions and support sustainable farming practices.
Tea & Coffee

We are seeing increases in the tea and coffee category driven by a combination of increased production costs and bad weather conditions.

Vietnam is the top global producer of Robusta coffee and the prolonged drought has impacted production.

Increased input costs are negatively impacting profit margins for tea manufacturers and as a result, we would expect manufacturers to start passing on these costs.

UK Key Market Movers (CPI)
The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) is a key measure of inflation in the UK. Movements in CPI give a high level overview of the key categories experiencing inflation. Below is a monthly snapshot of the top food commodity price inflation movements impacting the UK. The data is from Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Percentage change over 12 months:

  • Milk, cheese and eggs: -0.3%
  • Oils and fats: 6.6%
  • Breads & cereals: 4%
  • Vegetables: 6.6%
  • Meat: 3.1%
  • Sugar, jam, syrups, chocolate and confectionery: 8%
  • Fish: -2.2%
  • Fruit: 3.6%

Sources: Foodbuy, ONS, Birtwhistles UK, Mintel, Oliver Kay.

Share this article:

Stay connected

Enter your email address to be kept up to date with latest news, company developments and market insights. You can unsubscribe at any time.
View our Privacy Policy.