Market Report - May 2021

Fresh Produce

Each month at idc’s experts provide information on fresh produce, market changes, and seasonal trends to ensure you’re able to make the informed menu and budget choices. Taking up to the minute input from suppliers, farmers and analysts across the UK, Europe and the rest of the world, we hope this report will help you delight your customers and stay one step ahead of the competition. Our experts and customer service teams are always on hand if you’d like to find out more.

Potatoes

  • With dining outdoors allowed, and more people out-and-about, we will see increased demand. Chipping potatoes are expected to be the first to increase, but this hasn’t happened yet.
  • The cold start to the week, with snow flurries and low soil temperatures, paused planting for some growers. However, the subsequent clearer weather has enabled many to push on and make good progress.
  • Prices remain low overall, with good stocks of cold-stored potatoes.
  • Jersey Royals are still holding a high price, but we should start to see prices lower over the next month.

Root Vegetables and Brassicas

  • UK Strawed carrot will finish in the next couple of weeks, and we will rely on imports from Spain France and even some from Israel. One thing to be aware of is that these new crops will have a shorter shelf life.
  • Parsnips and turnips will also see some prices rise until the main season kicks in.
  • Broccoli has been very expensive, this is due to the limited planting back in January and February and damaged crops due to the February snowstorm. Market levels are returning to normal and the new UK season is expected to start in mid-May.
  • The cold snap has also slowed cauliflower growth resulting in smaller curds, but this will quickly alleviate as temperatures rise.

Other Vegetables

  • Spanish cold-stored onion is coming to an end and we will be moving over to Chilean onions for anything really large and we will see a significant hike in price. It may be worth considering smaller cooking onions to keep costs down. New-season Spanish will be due to start in the next six weeks or so, but the skin is not properly set reducing the shelf life to be careful with stock levels.
  • If you’re not using UK asparagus now you could miss out, it’s a short season so use it while you can, the quality is very good.
  • Mushroom pricing has seen an increase after the recent rise in the national minimum wage. There are also a few imported exotics with some minor price increase.
  • New-season leeks should be available mid-May and we will see a reduction in price as we move away from the imported produce.

Fruit

  • All UK apples have now finished bar the Bramley apple which is cold stored until the new season starts in August. European fruit will start to come to an end towards the ends of May, with South African product filling demand and prices rising.
  • May sees a cross over in the melon season as Honduras, Costa Rica and Panama finish and we move over to the Spanish Almeria fruit. Expect all melon prices to rise as available volume drops. Prices and availability will get better when the Spanish Murcia season starts about six weeks later.
  • UK strawberries will be more readily available in May and the Spanish season comes to an end, so keep an eye on quality and shelf life.
  • We normally see UK raspberry follow towards the end of May or the beginning of June.

Stonefruit

  • Spanish cherries will usually be available by the end of April or the beginning of May. The early season fruit will be a little pale in colour. Prices normally start high but drop as the volume starts to come through.
  • Spanish nectarines and peaches will also be available at about the same time, with apricots starting shortly after.

Salads

  • We will be moving over to UK salad leaf through May – iceberg, cos and flat lettuce – and the fancy leaf – oakleaf, lollo rosso and lollo Biondi. Prices will reduce as we move away from imported produce.
  • Spanish salad lines are still available with the new season Dutch crop running alongside. Prices will start high and drop as the season develops.

Dairy

  • Butter prices firmed through the period on the back of strong demand on continental markets and a shortage of fat. In addition, some nervousness has crept into the market with recent announcements of new lockdowns in some EU nations, possibly stalling the recovery of the foodservice sector.
  • Bulk cream prices climbed steadily over recent months on the back of those firm butter prices. The price increases stalled at the end of the period in line with a slowdown in butter demand and seasonally rising milk supplies. 

Buyers Choice - UK Strawberry

The UK season now starts in mid-March until November thanks to glasshouse grown supplies. Strawberries are native to both the old and new worlds, with Native Americans recorded as making strawberry cornbread and the Romans used them medicinally, to help with digestive ailments, discoloured teeth and skin irritations. The strawberries available today are derived from varieties that were originally developed in the seventeenth century.