Food and drink market update - Oct/Nov

21 October, 2022

Food markets still face a challenging time due to the weakening of the pound, rising cost of living, global inflationary pressures and other known factors such as the war in Ukraine and Brexit.

The current scenario shows a significant increase in energy and packaging costs, labour shortages, and difficulties in the supply chain. On top of that, the UK implemented additional checks, along with industrial actions, which has caused port delays and containers held up for extended periods of time.

Both dairy and fish markets have experienced rises in animal feed, labour, packaging, energy, and fuel costs. This significantly impacted the prices of milk, butter, cheese, fish, and seafood. Moreover, frozen white fish has been particularly difficult due to the war in Ukraine, as Russia is a major contributor to worldwide stocks.

Christmas: With the festive season fast approaching, there are concerns around availability of turkey due to Avian Flu, salmon prices are likely to be very high with smoked salmon being as cost effective as fresh salmon, and the cost of 80:20 pork trim will increase, with prices of other pork cuts following.

Take a look at the price movements by category below:

Key Price Movements:

Fresh Fruit and Vegetable

Long periods of drought followed by heavy rains caused a large reduction in the assortment of courgettes, strawberries, and Scottish broccoli.

Mixed leaf and lettuces from the UK will be coming to an end and will be imported from Spain, France and Italy, which will dramatically increase prices. The same can be expected for potatoes, onions, cauliflower, white, and red cabbage. Strawberries, melons, figs, and pineapple will also be priced higher as freight, labour, and inland fuel costs have escalated significantly .

There are also possibilities of shortages of products, mainly tomato, peppers and cucumbers varieties due to the extreme heat in summer and rising energy costs. In addition, orange supply has been extremely short due to late harvest and delayed shipping from South Africa.

Ambient, Frozen, Grocery

UK bread producers are continuing to experience severe hyperinflation pressures due to a number of factors, including wheat prices hitting an all-time high, gas and electricity prices rising at unprecedented levels, and all other input costs following suit, in particular seeds, cereal blends, gluten, and yeast.

The frozen market remains hugely challenging. Some frozen plaice lines have also increased as a result of 80% of the European fleet tying up due to high diesel prices, and Iceland increasing their prices.

There have been quota cuts on cold-water prawns, and a risk of import duty due to the unknown future of cold water quotas. This has affected the price of cold-water prawns across the board. Core fish finger lines have increased as a result of the Russian conflict. Keeping raw material non-Russian in origin is having an upward effect on the price.

Frozen bass fillet prices have risen on the back of increased feed costs, increased demand, and lack of raw material. Frozen scallops are a real problem, and this was expected due to the significant increases seen on the fresh lines over the last year. Scallops remain in short supply, and the new season pricing is up substantially. Frozen squid tube prices are up due to lower catches and slow production.

Value added products (breaded and battered fish and prawns) seem to keep increasing in price due to a severe lack of processing capacity and the exchange rate. There is still a lack of frozen salmon product available and prices are high on the product which is available.

Fish (Fresh)

Seafood prices on all core species have raised to varying levels. The price of crayfish tails in brine is increasing significantly by 12% and prawns in brine by 5%. Analysts are saying that salmon prices will be very high through 2022 and heading into 2023. Smoked salmon will be as cost effective as fresh salmon. Flat fish, tuna, and swordfish prices have also risen.


Dry weather has impacted the growth of grass and other livestock feed supplements which was reflected in increased pressure on meat prices.

Beef: Prime cattle prices are 36p per kg higher than the same period a year ago, and 79p higher than the five year average. With an increased demand for beef in both the UK and the EU against an overall global backdrop of produce, tighter supply looks likely to continue, with cattle prices nearly £1 per kilo higher than the 5-year average, and only 60p behind the average price for prime cattle.

Lamb: Prices continue to rise and this trend looks set to persist. Current average price of New Season UK Lamb Standard Quality Quotation is 63p higher than for the same period last year.

Poultry: Prices for whole chicken imported from Europe are now 29% higher than the same time last year. Duck and related products - due to the Avian Flu, levels of flocks are nowhere near where they should be, which has resulted in prices increasing month on month. There is some thought that prices will increase again as we get closer to Christmas.

UK turkey suppliers have advised of possible shortages in Q4 this year. This is due to a large number of small and medium sized producers leaving the industry. Many of the larger producers have converted their sheds from turkey to chicken, and the increased production costs throughout the UK and Europe have forced producers to cut numbers due to cash flow constraints.

Pork: Current UK price is just over £2 per kg and is set to rise as shortages occur due to farmers exiting the sector. This could be as much as 20%. This is clearly a pan-European issue and EU prices have risen by over 50p per kg relative to this time last year. Sausage manufacturing has seen increases on all ingredients required to produce, leading to large cost rises on finished products. With Christmas fast approaching, 80:20 trims will face the biggest pressure and are likely to go to over £3 per kg in the run up to Christmas, with other cuts following.


Prices across all dairy formats have increased significantly since the autumn of 2021. Warm weather has also had an impact on milk produced by herds, with production continuing to track 1-2% below last year. Grass used for winter silage has been affected, which will require farmers to buy in feed for cows over the colder months, adding yet further costs to the production process. This has a significant cost impact on milk, butter, and cheese and has led to steep rises in the market this month.

Non-foods and Packaging

Enquiries to the UK from Europe are very high, where the summer drought has been “as bad or worse” than that experienced in the UK – this is putting a high base price in the UK for both frying and pre-packing material. Costs of plastic for packaging have increased since early part of 2022 and do not show any signs of easing dramatically.

Sources: Bidfood UK, Campbell Brothers UK, Direct Seafood UK, Freshview Foods Ltd UK, Oliver Kay UK.

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