March Market Report 2024

March Market Report cover

UFC News

As signs of spring are starting to emerge all around us, we are starting to rise out of the depth of winter, and your menus are certainly showing this!

Everybody is starting to feel the buzz of the upcoming busy period. Our farmers at hard at work lambing, fishing crops out of the very wet fields, and preparing their land for the fantastic UK produce season. Whilst our catering colleagues are aligning their spring menus, alongside preparing for the busiest time of the year – Mother’s Day!

We are seeing some gorgeous products being delivered to your kitchens, from both the UK and EU during this crossover period, and we can’t wait to dive into more as we venture through this month’s report!

Yours,

United Fresh

logo of country butchers, a catering butcv

Supplier Showcase

Founded in 1940, Country Butchers have built up a strong name for themselves within Gloucestershire, where their reputation called for them across the midlands and south. Known for their high quality, local sourcing, and passion for their community, they are one of the larger names in wholesale butchery, and deservedly so.

Their links to local Gloucestershire farmers remain strong as ever, and they proudly supply the region’s finest locations. Their dedication and commitment are evident in the array of standards they hold –  SALSA (Safe and Local Suppliers Accreditation), alongside supplying Red Tractor, organic, and Free-Range products.

Reach out to us for more information via customerservices@unitedfresh.co.uk or have a look at Country Butchers’ website below.

Click Here!

March Market Information

You will have heard from near and far about the issues with the UK root crop in the last few months. From root vegetables and brassicas being submerged in oversaturated fields, unable to be rescued, to the ongoing and concerning issue around potato shortages. Where we are seeing improvement in supply with brassicas, we are unfortunately still experiencing frightening shortages in good quality potatoes.

Not only has the poor weather had a major impact on this shortage, in both the UK and EU, but we have also seen a decline in the number of farmers planting potatoes. The forecasted hectares dedicated to growing potatoes in 2023 in the UK is down 15,742 hectares from 2020 figures.

To give a more visual idea of the size of this decrease, one rugby pitch is around 1.008 hectares…

This decrease was the result of a multitude of reasons, but mainly the difficult conditions that potato farmers have experienced over the recent years and very little profit return.

NFU potato and policy chair Tim Rooke explained that the supply issues could be traced back as far as the drought during the summer of 2022 and that there is potential for there to be a shortage by the end of the season.

Alongside our UK potato shortage, our potato-growing colleagues in Northern Europe have also faced a dire situation, where there has been a reported loss of a staggering 700,000 and 800,000 tonnes of product! This is again due to weather issues, but also some political issues due to the strikes and War in Ukraine.

You’ll start to understand why this year’s shortage is a larger issue than in previous years.

Unfortunately, the shortage has increased the price of the products, and our buyers are expecting this to continue for the next few months, particularly on carrot and potato lines. One way we are suggesting our clients mitigate this impact is by using smaller bakers, as they are more abundant than the larger ones during this period.

Seasonality Information

Now onto the fun bit…!

Vegetables

Can we get a little commotion for the first batch of English Asparagus!?!

We are welcoming the season staple with open arms as we are seeing the first batches of early UK asparagus come into our depots! The delicate flavour will deepen as the crop matures. Asparagus is a highly sought-after product when in season, and deservedly so!

As mentioned above, potatoes are a major issue at present, and we highly recommend using frozen products where possible for the foreseeable future, however, if you require fresh, we would urge you to utilise small bakers.

UK Leeks are still a fantastic versatile product available during March alongside the introduction of Wild Garlic! Another industry love. We’ll start to see the first drops of supply trickle in this month. Make sure you get your hands on some!

Fruit

Indoor Forced Yorkshire Rhubarb is saying goodbye to us all at the end of March, so make sure to utilise it as much as possible until that sad moment! Whether in a classic sweet setting or a more modern savoury dish, this is a product you cannot miss.

Meat

As our butchers prepare their fridges for the arrival of spring lamb, we eagerly await the creations of our chefs for the classic springtime dish. However, as always we have more to offer. Whether it’s Better Chicken Commitment Chicken, to local Hereford beef, our butchers will always have your menu covered.

EU

Spanish Pea Pods are our highlight of the EU supply; they are perfect in March and add a crisp element to your dishes. They are a versatile product that will help you bulk out your vegetable offerings this month.

You must take advantage of the last of the Winter Blood Orange before the end of the season this month, where they will be replaced by the wonderful Valencia Orange season towards the end of March.

Melon is always a lovely product to enjoy in the springtime; however, the supply from the southern hemisphere has taken a real hit with the heavy rain in the growing regions which has impacted the supply of watermelon and honeydew. This shortage has resulted in a price hike which we would advise our clients to avoid where possible.

As we await for the main UK salad crop to really kick into gear, we are seeing the transition of the Spanish salad season and the start of the Holland supply. There have been no reported issues from our growers so the flow of salad should remain steady.

For any questions regarding the above, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today:

Tel: 01789 339 106

Email: customerservices@unitedfresh.co.uk

We’re passionate about seasonal produce

Seasonality

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