Food market update - Focus on fresh produce

25 August, 2023


Fruit and Veg: Warmer temperatures accompanied by occasional showers have been the most favourable conditions for numerous farmers in recent weeks.

The supply chains are showing steady improvement, as the yields of various produce are coming in from different parts of the UK in quite satisfactory conditions. Items like sweetcorn, courgette, runner beans, peas, and broad beans are highly recommended right now.

In the upcoming month, we anticipate a bountiful supply of delicate and versatile soft fruits, as well as exceptionally sweet stone fruits grown in the UK.

However, it's important to note that the weather has affected orange-producing regions include Florida where ’Hurricane Ian’ caused widespread crop loss. Many other orange-producing regions, including Mexico, Brazil and Spain had poor yields due to drought conditions.

Chocolate: The price of chocolate has surged by 14% in the past year. Further investigations suggest that this upward trend will continue into 2024 due to strained cocoa supplies.

Companies relying on cocoa beans from West Africa's Ivory Coast are grappling with shortages caused by severe droughts, impeding tree growth due to inadequate water supply.

As a result, numerous companies are expected to encounter challenges over the next year, which could ultimately impact chocolate prices.

Take a look at the price movements and the quality of the fruits and vegetables for this month:

Key price movements:

Fruits & Vegetables

Summer berries are currently of outstanding quality and in abundant supply. Blueberries, raspberries, and gooseberries sourced from various locations across the UK are available, although gooseberries will end this month.

Blackberries are expected to make their initial appearance around the middle of August.

Plums have made their debut for the season, with the Opel variety taking the lead. As the month progresses, we anticipate the arrival of the exquisite Jubilee and Victoria plums, followed by the Marjorie's variety later in the month.

Apples are now available, with the early UK varieties such as Discovery and Bramley currently in supply. Following these, we expect the arrival of Cox's apples, while September will mark the debut of Royal Gala apples.

With the grape season transitioning to Southern Europe, there is apprehension regarding the potential repercussions of the heatwaves that have affected the region. While no immediate problems are evident, there is a possibility of encountering supply challenges and compromised quality in the grape category over the forthcoming couple of months.

Furthermore, there will be an introduction of European fruits as they will transition from the Southern to the Northern hemisphere.

Citrus fruits like satsumas and clementines will be ending their availability this month, making way for the Nadorcott variety.

Orange juice pricing is facing challenges due to the ongoing concerns surrounding the availability of orange concentrate. It's anticipated that both availability and prices will undergo significant impacts over the upcoming months.

Lemons are still well-supplied, sourced from both South Africa and Argentina.

Limes will experience a price increase as the month progresses, aligning with an enhancement in quality.

This month is optimal for stone fruits, offering an excellent assortment of apricots, nectarines, and peaches from France and Spain, including the addition of greengages.

Melons will be arriving along Southern hemisphere fruits from Brazil, beginning with watermelons, followed by honeydew melons. With the ongoing heatwaves in Spain, this timing is particularly advantageous.

There is news of a significant crop failure for conference pears in France and Italy this summer. Due to the resultant increased demand for alternative fruits, prices are expected to remain elevated.

A consistent and ample supply of various salad leaves, both sourced locally in the UK and internationally, remains readily accessible.

Romanesco is currently in its prime - exceptional quality at a reasonable price for this season.

Lambs lettuce is being removed from the mix due to shelf life and quality concerns. In its place, other leaves will be increased in equal proportions.

Certain batches of spinach may display a paler hue accompanied by instances of tip burn or yellow markings on the leaves. These occurrences can be attributed to the prevailing weather conditions and the low nutrient levels in the soil.

Carrots are now in ample supply, leading to a drop in prices. Both Chantaney carrots and various heritage varieties, including orange ones, can be found in excellent condition.

Leeks are now in their peak season, displaying exceptional quality. Additionally, savoy, hispi, and spring greens are generously available.

Sprouting beans, runner beans, fine beans, bunched radish (including rainbow varieties), baby turnips, and kales are all in excellent condition and currently in season.

With the end of the UK season, asparagus have been supplied by South America. The quality is high, and there is an abundant supply in stock.

Wild mushrooms are currently available on the market only as Girolles. Anticipate the arrival of Ceps in approximately 2-3 weeks, while Trompette and Chanterelles will follow, albeit with a slight delay, expected in around 4 weeks.

Owing to reduced volumes, both Capsicum peppers and Cherry tomatoes might exhibit slightly delayed colour development this month. Red and yellow peppers might display intermittent green areas, and for tomatoes, fruits on the ends of vine trusses might appear greener.

Quality and availability concerns have arisen regarding Baby Candy and Golden beetroots.

Cauliflower remains a persistent concern with limited availability and high costs. The scarcity stems from weather conditions affecting other countries.

Swedes from the new season have entered the market, but due to the rainfall experienced during the planting period, current supplies are somewhat limited, resulting in higher pricing.

Worries regarding pumpkin sizes are gradually diminishing, as growers note ongoing improvements in the crop. Although there are lingering concerns about the pumpkins' coloration, a thorough assessment of this aspect is slated for a few weeks ahead.

The cost of Spanish onions has continued to decrease, and their skin condition is steadily improving on a weekly basis. Fresh batches of Dutch brown and red onions from the new season have commenced their arrival, which should contribute to a decline in prices.

Initial shipments of new season potatoes are imminent, and prices are expected to start easing off. The focus has shifted to Norfolk Royals and with time, early potato types are consistently getting better, and as we approach September, the first harvest of general ware potatoes is on the horizon.

Sources: A David UK, Dole UK, Fresh Direct UK, Oliver Kay UK.

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