Food and drink market update - Sept / Oct 2023

19 September, 2023


Market conditions remain challenging, with rising demand and ongoing supply constraints. Prices are stabilising but at elevated levels.

Global dairy demand is challenged by slow economic growth, and UK domestic demand may decrease due to lower consumer incomes.

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1 cases are reported in Aberdeenshire, Angus, and Dumfries and Galloway, leading to Protection Zones and Surveillance Zones to contain outbreaks.

Suppliers are facing rising raw material prices and farmers are reluctant to cultivate vegetables; potato production pressure adds to the challenge, making price negotiations with farmers critical.

Elevated raw material prices and market shortages have contributed to increased costs, and droughts, floods, and strict pesticide regulations have affected crop availability and quality.

Crops like wheat, cereals, sunflowers, and maize offering lower investment and higher yields.

Brazil and the US are expecting substantial corn crops, affecting wheat prices. Moisture deficits in the US corn belt are improving, but challenges are seen in parts of the EU, including dry conditions in Spain, Portugal, and Italy. Germany and the UK face grain quality concerns as well. Russia is confident in grain exports and has taken a hostile stance towards Ukrainian grain movements, impacting alternative routes and international tenders, especially in North Africa.

Take a look at the price movements and the quality of the products by category below:

Key price movements:

Fruits & Vegetables

Blackcurrants: Last season, there was a shortage of blackcurrants causing record-high prices. The outlook for the new season appears more promising with lower prices expected.

Blueberries: The blueberry season is gaining momentum, but earlier frost has reduced buds and flowers leading to expectations of lower yields. Despite these challenges, prices are anticipated to remain stable or potentially reduce slightly as inflationary pressures ease.

Oranges: Shortages of small and medium-sized oranges continue to pose challenges with full resolution not anticipated until the Spanish season commences in mid-to-late October. However, there are concerns about a potential future tightening of supply for larger sizes.

Melons: A mix of Spanish and Brazilian products will be available from the beginning of October; good availability and quality can be expected.

Peaches, nectarines, and apricots: Spain and France are ending their season with declining quality.

Kiwi: Products are scarce but may improve in quality soon.

Cherry Tomatoes: Availability has been challenging over the summer, but diversifying sourcing from various regions has helped ease availability issues.

Plum Tomatoes: Supply is narrowing due to various factors, including summer viral issues; upcoming weeks may be challenging.

Heritage Tomatoes: The Isle of Wight Heritage Tomatoes are gradually concluding their season, and it will soon be shifting to supplies from France and/or Spain.

Wild Mushrooms: Girolles, Chanterelles, Trompette, and Pied De Mouton are all in stock in limited quantities. Ceps are still of insufficient quality for acceptance, so their availability is not expected for several weeks.

Peas: Dry spells in the EU and the UK reduce pea yields, causing scarcity and price pressure. Suppliers invest in additional production facilities but face logistical expenses.

Green beans: Cultivation decreases due to farmer preferences and dry weather, leading to higher costs.

Broccoli: Demand remains strong, but supply chain issues persist due to farmer reluctance and weather-related challenges.

Cauliflower: Supply faces a 20% shortfall due to adverse weather, including floods and droughts. Purple cauliflowers are now available.

Cabbages: Crops decline in quality due to pesticide regulations and drought, resulting in shortages and higher prices.

Sweetcorn: Favourable weather conditions in Hungary lead to a promising sweetcorn crop. High demand keeps prices robust.

Spinach: Dry weather impacts spinach yield, leading to lower volumes and higher prices.

Root Vegetables (carrots, onions and leeks): Drought conditions significantly reduce root vegetable size and volume, causing widespread shortages and price increases.

Peppers: Expect a delay in pepper colour change for the next few weeks as the Dutch crop declines, and the new Spanish season is delayed until mid-October. There's a chance the Dutch pepper season could end earlier in October, and the Spanish crop may not fully compensate. Sourcing from both regions aims to ease this transition, however, stocks are near depletion, leading to costly weekly purchases to address the shortage.

UK Squash: The market is currently seeing an array of UK squash varieties, including Spaghetti Squash, Red Onion Squash, Green Kobacha, and Acorn Squash.

Pumpkins: Industry-wide pumpkin challenges are expected due to lower yields this year. Availability issues are a concern and there are worries about reduced storage quality due to recent adverse weather conditions.

Potatoes & Chips
  • The potato market is under significant pressure, with spot prices surging by 38% compared to the previous year. The effects of last year's disappointing harvest are still being felt, resulting in a severe supply shortage, especially in branded product lines.
  • European potato-growing regions are grappling with rainfall shortages, which are risking this year's harvest. Late planting reduces yields due to insufficient crop development before hot weather.
  • While the 2023 harvest outlook is better than 2022, variations exist among countries with and without irrigation practices. In the UK, improved rainfall benefits crops, but slower tuber initiation leads to reduced yields, especially in England. Scotland, on the other hand, experiences a more favourable summer for crops.
  • Prices continue to rise despite slightly improved crops in some regions. Global demand for chips and potato products remains high, surpassing supplies.
  • Belgium, a major producer, has expanded its capacity, but relief in prices is expected in 2024 as key suppliers increase their capacity. For the current season, prices are anticipated to remain elevated.

  • UK cheese production has increased, but higher exports have tightened supply. The cheese market has seen price fluctuations but has stabilised, with retail demand favouring value options.
  • High costs in feed, fuel, and wages prevent cheese prices from returning to pre-September 2021 levels.
  • UK butter prices decreased due to mixed reports, impacting companies' profitability. Butter supply remains stable, and milk powder production has slightly risen.
  • UK milk production is expected to improve slightly due to favourable weather conditions, but could decline if profit margins worsen.
  • UK cream prices remained stable in 2023 due to tight supply and reduced demand from major processors. In the EU, cream prices are softening due to summer holidays discouraging spot market purchases.
  • Farmgate milk prices dropped, with cheese prices reacting earlier due to excess stock and weak demand. The dairy market remains uncertain, with some speculation of potential price increases in late 2023 but an overall sense of weak to stable cheese prices amid reduced retail demand and surplus.

  • Chick placement in the poultry industry is improving, but it won't immediately increase egg availability due to the six-month maturation period for new chicks. While this is a positive sign of producer investment, concerns loom regarding the upcoming migratory bird season and potential avian influenza outbreaks in September and October.
  • Previous years saw significant impacts on the egg industry with bird culling during avian flu outbreaks, making producers hesitant to invest in new flocks.
  • Most UK supermarkets have shifted to cage-free egg sourcing to meet consumer demand. This transition to cage-free systems has lower bird densities and results in reduced egg production, contributing to a decrease in the number of laying birds in the UK.



  • Prices for prime steers and heifers have risen, reflecting a steady climb compared to the previous year.
  • Cattle supplies have tightened, impacting market dynamics.
  • Domestic beef demand faces challenges due to inflation, while foodservice shows resilience.
  • Future price concerns exist, particularly for round cuts and joints.
  • Increased imports of Irish beef and rising domestic supplies are notable supply dynamics.
  • UK beef consumption is expected to remain subdued.
  • Prices may rise for visual leans due to seasonal factors.


  • The pig meat market sees reduced production, higher prices, and lower consumer demand.
  • Standard Pig Price reached an all-time high.
  • Net margins from production costs are positive.
  • EU-spec Standard Pig Price records substantial year-on-year gains.
  • Certain cuts experience decreased demand, while others like pork legs see price increases.
  • Bacon prices may rise, and pig numbers are impacted by rising grain prices and labour shortages.


  • Lamb market remains stable but faces challenges in domestic demand.
  • Price movements include a decrease in dead-weight lamb prices and specific cuts gaining popularity.
  • Production is expected to increase, but consumption may stay lower due to cost-of-living challenges.
  • Trade dynamics and global competition from the Southern Hemisphere are key factors.


  • Poultry sector stabilises post-global financial crisis.
  • Price spikes are leveling off, with ample supply expected for the upcoming festive season.
Frozen Fish & Seafood
  • Frozen food prices have generally stabilised, with many products becoming more budget-friendly after a period of post-pandemic price increases.
  • Frozen cod fillets, both with and without skin, are expected to drop in price due to declining origin costs, though there may be a slight increase later in the year.
  • Raw peeled warm-water prawn prices have also decreased, due to favourable exchange rates and ample global stock.
Fresh Fish & Seafood

Sea Bass and Gilthead Bream

Favourable biomass levels make them excellent choices and stable or reduced prices are expected.

Farmed Fish

Prices are expected to drop, making it a good time for long-term menu price fixes.


Prices will decrease in September and remain stable until late November, with potential surges in December and the following year.


ChalkStream® trout is a reliable choice for autumn.

Smaller rainbow trout prices have risen due to farm challenges and sea-reared trout prices are expected to remain stable.

Halibut and Turbot

Farmed halibut is a premium option. Turbot prices have reduced, offering a sustainable alternative to wild sea bass.

Tuna and Swordfish

Demand declines in the UK during autumn and winter, with steady supply and no significant price increases expected.


Canadian lobster catches decrease until December. The USA maintains availability with stable prices and native lobsters become scarcer and pricier as waters warm.

Scallops, Mussels, Oysters, and Clams

Roeless USA scallops have good availability and stable prices.

Mussels and native oysters return in September.

Palourde clams also have good availability.

Cod, Haddock, and Pollock

Conflict in Ukraine impacting Norwegian and Atlantic markets. Stable or strengthening prices are expected for Norwegian cod and haddock until late Q3.

Alaskan Pollock supply is substantial, keeping prices steady.


Indian prawn prices rose, while Ecuadorian and Norwegian prawn prices fell. Tight European markets and Chinese demand may stabilise prices.

Other products

  • Brown shrimp prices have risen due to reduced landings.
  • Crab meat prices should remain stable.
  • Crayfish prices may reduce in September.
  • Anchovy in oil prices are rising due to poor fishing conditions.
  • Smoked salmon and haddock prices are expected to decrease.
Ambient, Fruit Juice, and Cooking Oils

Canned Tomatoes

Negotiations on tomato prices in southern Italy are paused due to adverse weather conditions affecting crop schedules.

Spain faces significant cost increases, leading to uncertainty in committed volumes.

Italy expects a 5.7 million metric tonne tomato harvest but faces financial challenges due to delayed sales and new regulations.

Canned Tuna

Canned tuna prices have steadily risen by £150 to £250 per metric tonne over the past year, driven by various factors, including currency fluctuations, raw material costs, manufacturing expenses, and logistical outlays.

An anticipated 10% price increase is expected due to a three-month ban on Fish Aggregating Devices from July to September 2023. Prices may begin to decline around December 2023 or January 2024, but this is subject to various influencing factors.

Durum Wheat (Pasta)

Challenging weather in Canada may reduce durum wheat yields by up to 25%.

Italy anticipates quality issues due to heavy rainfall, impacting prices and import needs.


India's rice crop is damaged by weather, leading to export restrictions and concerns about food inflation.

Global wheat price increases contribute to inflation worries.

Vietnam and Thailand experience rising rice prices, reflecting supply concerns.


Sugar prices surge by 29% in six months, posing challenges for 2023 and 2024.

Production challenges, including weather and cost inflation, are expected to reduce sugar production.

Domestic sugar markets witness a 47% cost increase due to inflation and reduced production.



High summer temperatures in California and the US has affected almond production, but manageable water reserves for irrigation.

Erratic global almond shipments lead to larger carryover stocks.

No significant price escalation expected unless demand substantially increases or currency volatility occurs.


Key destinations have significant stock carryovers into 2023.

June 2023 exports from Vietnam increased by 9.5% compared to June 2022.

Stable origin kernel prices due to ample new crop supply and African imports.


Californian new crop walnut harvest is three months away.

Chinese walnut crop pricing could increase in 2024, potentially impacting California prices.


Turkish hazelnut new crop harvest expected soon, with uncertainty due to July rains.

Pine Nuts

Declining pine nut prices due to sluggish international demand.

Russia redirected pine nut stocks to China, affecting Chinese exports.

Attractive pine nut prices for the UK and EU markets due to lower freight rates and weaker USD.

Cobnuts & Chestnuts

Both have been sold in bulk, however, due to allergy concerns, suppliers have stopped offering them.

Currently, there is no information about selling them pre-packed.

Dried Fruits


Impact of high temperatures and low rainfall on the coconut market.

Slow demand leads to high coconut stocks in the Philippines.

Rising coconut prices expected due to decreasing yields, particularly in Sri Lanka.

Raisins and Sultanas

Western Turkey's raisin and sultana crop outlook affected by weather challenges and mildew issues.

Minimum wage increase adds to production costs.


Developmental issues may reduce the new crop by 15% to 20% due to weather conditions.


Turkey anticipates a 25% decrease in the new apricot crop, posing challenges for the upcoming season.

Growers may hold crops in anticipation of higher prices.

Fruit Juice

The orange juice market still faces supply constraints and high prices.

While pineapple prices have eased, cranberry juice prices are rising, and apple prices remain firm due to limited supplies.

Energy cost reductions may benefit apple juice production, and Poland's apple production is expected to increase slightly.

Cooking Oils

Sunflower Oil

The closure of key Black Sea ports in Ukraine, coupled with increased buying activity and concerns about Ukraine's supply, is expected to drive up sunflower oil prices. Previously, favourable growing conditions in Ukraine had caused prices to drop by about 30% from their peak in 2023.

Rapeseed Oil

Rapeseed oil prices peaked in 2022 due to the Ukraine crisis but declined until recently. Reduced yield forecasts, conflicts in the grain corridor, and adverse weather conditions have led to rising prices. Some European refiners are shifting from soy to rapeseed oil, affecting immediate prices.

Soy Oil

Brazil's strong soy crop and US crop challenges have influenced soy oil prices. Despite reduced US demand and potential imports from South America, prices remain good, subject to weather conditions. European refiners' shift to other oils is affecting immediate prices.

Palm Oil

Palm oil prices in Malaysia surged but are weakening due to improved supply forecasts. Export demand, particularly from India, has influenced market dynamics. Future prices depend on the balance between export demand and production levels.

Olive Oil

The olive oil industry faces challenges due to a severe drought in Europe, leading to reduced yields and low stocks. Spain's harvest dropped significantly, and extreme weather conditions continue. Olive oil prices have reached record highs due to fears of another poor harvest.

Sources: A David UK, Bidfood UK, Birtwistles UK, Direct Seafood UK.

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