Food market update - Focus on fresh produce and meat

25 July, 2023


Fruit and Veg: Recent updates indicate that the June's warmer climate has been beneficial for the growth of salad crops, brassicas and an expanding selection of soft fruits. However, root vegetables and potatoes require more rainfall to enhance their size and yield. But on the whole, there is cautious contentment among the growers and July is a great month to celebrate and showcase the very best of the UK home-grown produce!

Meat: Despite relying on foreign butchery, UK pig meat production is forecasted to decrease by 15% by year-end, posing economic challenges for domestic processing. In contrast, pork exports haven't seen a product type shift, with bone-in products dominating. In addition, beef prices at abattoirs and auction marts remain very high due to limited supply and robust retail demand. There is also a decline in lamb supply which can be attributed to adverse weather conditions, variable grass growth and higher feed costs, affecting the overall kill pattern for the year.

On a positive note, there have been no significant Avian Flu issues reported in Poland, the EU's largest exporter of chicken to the UK and the egg shortage has significantly improved in recent weeks with a consistent and steady supply available.

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

Key price movements:

Fruits & Vegetables

Strawberries are juicy, plump and bursting with flavour, being a perfectly balanced blend of sweetness. It can be expected that the season will last a little while longer and then it will move over to Spain. However, with the extreme heat happening there, there is uncertainty around whether Spanish crops will survive.

Peach quality is superb and they are incredibly soft and juicy, and there are also some really great quality nectarines available.

With their beautiful shades of green and their translucent flesh, gooseberries not only add a visual allure but also infuse dishes with a refreshing zing.

Some lovely quality greengages on stock have only just stared their season. They are a group of common plum but distinctively different in colour and taste with greengages being much smaller and sweeter.

Kiwis are good in quality, however its availability is currently very limited. There is still stock, but continued supply is not guaranteed.

It is important to be aware that limes are going to be very tricky to source from now and going into August. Prices have already gone up, and suppliers are not agreeing to set prices.

In July, the entire head varieties of UK lollo rosso, oakleaf, and baby leaf salads are in their prime, offering unparalleled freshness and taste. Furthermore, the UK herbs season has commenced, featuring delightful choices like coriander, chives, tarragon, and parsley, among others, contributing a burst of flavour and aroma to any seasonal menu.

Iceberg, little gem and cos lettuce have been affected by the humid, wet weather which has caused stress to plants. Their appearance is described by delicate heads and odd discolouration to outer leaves (which can be removed), but shelf-life has improved.

Romanesco is really beautiful at this time of year and makes a great addition to any dish or roasted with some garlic and oil for a tasty side dish.

The weather in Spain is causing real issue for a lot of salad items, the most recent crop to suffer is frissie lettuce. Currently, the temperature is causing the leaves to breakdown and the quality is not up to the standard it should be.

The UK heritage tomato varieties are an absolute delight and represent excellent value for money. Whether cultivated in the picturesque Vale of Evesham or on the scenic Isle of Wight, these tomatoes tend to elevate any dish with their superb taste and quality.

Peppers, cucumbers and aubergines are arriving in abundant quantities and are excellent quality from reliable suppliers in Holland.

There have been a lot of issues with asparagus recently due to the European seasons finishing slightly earlier than normal. Because they started earlier than normal their yields were lower which drove prices up; hopefully this will not last much longer.

In general, the supply of old season potatoes is gradually decreasing, yet there is an abundance of new season salad potatoes available, maintaining a high standard. While eagerly awaiting the new season's harvest, the first of the main crop is anticipated to arrive in early August. It's worth noting that this year's arrival is later than in previous years, as cooler spring temperatures delayed planting, and the dry June hindered growth.

Large onions from Spain have recently made their appearance, causing prices to ease after reaching their peak in mid-June. However, the supply of smaller brown and red onions is dwindling, prompting the substitution of Egyptian and South African onions to bridge the gap left by European crops.

In July and August, the British market will experience a bountiful supply of summer cauliflower and broccoli, as local growers step into replace imports.

While carrots were predominantly brought in from abroad in recent months, the arrival of new season crops in substantial quantities will aid in alleviating pricing pressures.

The fresh UK parsnips have made their debut in July, boasting bright white skins. Additionally, both imported and homegrown broad beans present a delightful alternative to the usual summer vegetables, adding a touch of novelty to traditional dishes.

Around mid-month, UK-grown courgettes and leeks will grace the market, providing excellent value for consumers and a warm welcome, particularly with the introduction of UK courgette flowers.

Purple sprouting brocolli adds a pop of colour and a mild, earthy flavour to dishes; whether steamed, roasted or stir-fried, it makes a fantastic addition to most dishes.

There are some really beautiful UK grown marrows on the market at the moment; size is fabulous and they are also not too expensive.

Additionally, let's not forget to highlight some other noteworthy summer crops, such as the UK runner beans, UK rainbow chard, Spanish corn on the cob and purple cauliflower. These delectable offerings add further diversity and flavour to the seasonal selection.

July marked the exclusive availability of UK samphire. This delectable and salty delicacy is not only a perfect accompaniment to fish dishes, but also has the remarkable ability to invigorate any salad, making it a refreshing addition to various meals, especially on warm summer days.



There continues to be a surge in demand for steaks and burgers, both in the foodservice sector and retail markets. The casual dining industry is experiencing concerns due to prevailing inflation rates and steadily rising interest rates.

There has been a substantial seasonal increase in demand for burger cuts and trims, particularly for steak meats such as sirloins and rumps.


The recent increase in prices has had a positive effect on producer margins, reaching levels significantly better than those observed in the past two years.

However, despite this improvement, the margins are still in negative territory due to ongoing inflationary pressures. It's worth mentioning that pork inflation stands at 27.2%, primarily due to cost pressures.


The average prices for new season lambs (NSL) are currently strong due to a shift in supply from old season lambs, leading to reduced throughputs compared to the previous year.

As of the week ending 3rd June, the deadweight NSL Standard Quality Quotation (SQQ) reached an impressive 709p/kg, representing a significant 24p/kg increase from the same week in 2022.

However, spring lambs have entered the market at a slower pace this year compared to the previous year and the five-year average. By 3rd June, approximately 186,000 new season lambs had been processed since the beginning of the year, which is 17% lower than the same period in 2022.


In the UK, there is still strong demand for thigh meat in foodservice, and with the arrival of summer and settled weather, drumsticks and wings have also seen increased demand from both retail and foodservice sectors.

Supply issues persist from France for various poultry products, including confit duck legs, duck legs, breasts, corn fed chicken and guinea fowl.

The arrivals of these products are only around 40% of the requested volumes due to challenges faced by French farmers in obtaining insurance due to the Avian Flu outbreak.

Consequently, there is a limited number of birds being raised.


Turkey farming faces minimal incentives compared to chicken production, and various factors have worsened market challenges, resulting in a crisis with mounting losses. Some companies continue to farm turkeys out of obligation to retailers.

Large corporations are avoiding turkey cultivation due to the risk of Avian Influenza (AI) and the expensive and labour-intensive nature of raising these birds, exacerbated by their susceptibility to AI. Therefore, an increase in turkey meat prices is expected.

Sources: A David UK, Birtwistles UK, I A Harris, Oliver Kay UK.

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