May 2022 Fresh Produce Market Report
We all remain aware of the terrible situation in Ukraine and our thoughts are with everyone affected by the continuing tragedy.
Unfortunately, the impact on global food prices due to the war is acute, with prices striking a new high, soaring at the fastest monthly rate in 14 years after the war hit the supply of grains and vegetable oils. Month-on-month record highs don’t offer much in the way of hopes for a swift reduction in food pricing, though we continue to work closely with all our suppliers to mitigate the impact of these as much as possible.
In the meantime, we hope this month’s market report can bring a little positivity and some interesting food insights to benefit you and your businesses, and your customers.
May 11th – Eat What You Want Day
Though this day might seem like it is celebrating gluttony and bad eating habits, the intention behind it is to emphasise that we should realise the importance of a healthy diet all year round.
May 29th – National Biscuit Day
Brits eat 52 biscuits per second on average, so it makes sense to have a day to celebrate this favourite tea-time treat.
Both these days sound amazing, but who limits biscuits to teatime?
In mainland Spain, there was snow last week in Cullar (Granada) and temperatures dipped to –6c in some of the inland growing regions. The area around Cartagena has had 16 inches of rain over the last four weeks and 70mm this week but warmer weather is on its way.
The haulage industry in Spain is in chaos and there have been reports of food shortages.
The area of Agria is expected to be similar but importers are concerned that haulage issues which include long delays at the Channel Tunnel may restrict exports to the U.K.
Potato Round Up
Jersey – It has been cold with temperatures down to 2c and 3c overnight. Growth rates of the outdoor crop have been disappointing, but the indoor crop is coming to an end and lifting on the earliest cotils has had to start to maintain supplies. The price is being kept at £2.75 per pound delivered. Apart from the low temperatures which have caused some slight frost damage, there have been strong winds that have battered the crop on exposed sites. Volumes will be very light for the next seven to ten days and will pick up through May.
Cornwall – It has been a cool start to the month with 10mm of rain, strong winds and almost freezing temperatures. Varieties affected include Maris Peer. Growth rates have been very slow but low volumes of Arrow have been lifted.
Pembroke – Earliest Rocket and Swift which were touching poly cover were singed badly. Covers have been kept on to protect the crop from 50mph winds. Planting of varieties including Maris Peer but also Accord and Premiere was continuing.
The Midlands – Planting progress has been excellent and some growers on the lightest soils have now finished.
The East – An isolated area of January planted Maris Peer has been hit badly by wind damage but also by frost. The earliest plantings of Maris Peer and Maris Piper are just starting to show emergence with most forward about “4% emerged”.
West Essex – Planting has progressed well on medium soils, but it has been too wet on the West Essex heavy soils where some growers have not yet started.
Scotland – Two or three growers on the lightest soils in the East have made rapid progress with planting but there is very little planting elsewhere.
After Easter, there should be good volumes of strawberries as the weather has finally turned a corner in Huelva.
Glasshouse strawberries will be volatile due to the growers not turning on the gas as it is too expensive so it will need to be taken weekly.
It seems like every year growers plant fewer and fewer raspberries as retailers want the best varieties and not crop heavy varieties; this, in turn, has kept prices higher for longer periods and the surplus oversupply gets absorbed in the bigger value packs. There are fewer UK raspberries throughout the season so the import line will need to continue.
Blackberries have been problematic due to higher flight costs and limited options. The USA has taken the majority of Mexican/Guatemalan supply. Spanish will start in May.
We can expect Citrus fruit to increase in price, which is typical as we move over from Spanish and Moroccan fruit to the Southern Hemisphere from Peru and South Africa. If the border control continues to have delays, it will only push prices and availability further.
Both red and white cabbage are now stored products and prices have seen a rise. This will hike further once the UK stored products are finished and we move onto the larger Dutch imported product.
The previous heavy rainfall in Spain and the delays in port, alongside the delays in Holland due to the Dutch not heating their greenhouses, are keeping all the Spanish vegetables and salads at a very high price. It is expected to be the end of May before mainstream Dutch produce comes into main season, due to the rising energy costs, it has delayed the main crop by approximately 6 weeks.
While we are waiting for the Netherlands to warm up and start sending more produce over to the UK, we thought it would be good to take a look at what they do.
The Netherlands might be a small country, but it’s the second-largest exporter of agriculture in the world, after the United States. In 2017, the Netherlands exported $111 billion worth of agricultural goods, including $10 billion in flowers and $7.4 billion in vegetables.
The Netherlands is a leader in efficient and sustainable agriculture – and the second-largest exporter of agricultural goods in the world.
To feed 10 billion people by 2050 at the current level of food production efficiency, we’d have to clear most of the world’s forests.
Some of the Dutch suppliers use a hydroponic system and geothermal energy to limit its impact on the environment while maximizing yield.
Since 2011, some have been using geothermal energy to heat their greenhouses, and the plants grow in a hydroponic system to use less water.
The tomatoes are grown in small bags of Rockwool substrate, made from spinning together molten basaltic rock into fine fibres, which contains nutrients and allows the plants to soak up water even when moisture levels are low, meaning the plants use less water.