We are faced with very difficult times, where predictions are hard to make for the next day let alone the weeks ahead.
The core volume of broccoli, cauliflower, courgette, cucumber and tomatoes in the UK are sourced from the continent. The main challenge here is due to the EU closing its borders for seasonal workers, so that countries are struggling massively for labour. In addition to labour issues, transport costs have gone up and the exchange rate collapsed towards the end of last week. All these elements have pushed costs on certain products (in particular, broccoli and cauliflower) to almost three times the normal price.
Normally, at this time of year, we would start to move on to UK grown produce for the above lines. However, given the extensive and elongated wet weather season we have seen since January, we will inevitably see a delay on main crop availability. Small amounts will be available soon in the UK but as the season starts, quality isn’t always guaranteed in large volumes and prices for good quality produce are likely to be expensive.
The season for carrots and potatoes (both UK) season is nearing its end and the increases put through from February into March were in line with historic year on year price increases. The increase we are seeing now, however, is where supermarkets have demanded huge volumes in the last 14 days or so and all potatoes in cold store from last autumn are being exhausted. Some suppliers have seen a 30% increase on prices this week across many varieties, including the whitewashed. On a plus side, some salad leaves (except iceberg) are steady on price.