Stuart Lawson, produce technical manager at fresh produce supplier Reynolds, reviews availability for the weeks ahead
Spanish hard salads are likely to be the biggest problem area this month. The warm winter in Spain has left plants tired and stressed as they near the end of their season and sustaining production is proving tricky. All pepper types, especially yellow, as well as tomatoes and cucumbers, are struggling to reach the appropriate quality levels and shelf-life is therefore likely to be reduced.
The Canary Islands, Morocco and Israel will offer some support until the Dutch and UK seasons get under way in the coming weeks and months, but expect higher than usual market prices until then.
Spanish leafy salads are also struggling, a legacy of crops maturing too early during the warm winter period, which leaves gaps later in the season. Meanwhile, Spanish strawberries have improved in recent weeks, bringing some welcome flavour to the dessert menu. It's just a month or so now before volumes of British berries begin to come through.
Avocado availability will continue to prove an issue for the next six weeks or so, with reduced harvests and surging demand resulting in shortages and very high prices. Italian blood oranges and Yorkshire forced rhubarb are great fruit options for the next few weeks.
Poor availability of asparagus from Peru and Mexico persists, especially for larger sizes. With the domestic season about to commence, UK growers are likely to be able to charge a premium.
Home-grown cauliflowers are still very thin on the ground and struggling to make minimum weight. Spain is providing a supporting role, but has its own quality issues to contend with. Sweetheart cabbages are also hard to get, but kale availability is improving each day.
Jerseys are beginning to arrive, but will be pricey until volumes grow. Wild garlic leaves and Italian monk's beard are well worth a look for the month ahead.
Visit www.reynolds-cs.com or phone 0845 310 6200
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