The foodservice industry will be fervently hoping for a period of economic stability as Brexit negotiations get under way after the general election, says buying specialist Lynx Purchasing.
The newly published summer 2017 edition of the Lynx Purchasing Market Forecast offers operators an in-depth look at pricing and product trends over the coming months using exclusive data gathered from the range of suppliers Lynx works with. While food and drink inflation continues to be a challenge, there are glimmers of hope for more stable pricing, believes Lynx Purchasing managing director Rachel Dobson.
She says: "There are almost two years of negotiations between Britain and the EU ahead. While it seems inevitable that there will be constant political debate about the outcome on both sides of the Channel, our hope is that the markets continue to take a pragmatic view.
"The impact of the fall in the value of sterling after the Brexit vote has now been more or less priced in by suppliers, so there is potentially a period of greater certainty ahead if the markets focus on the real picture, rather than constantly react to political speculation. Our own measure of foodservice inflation, the 'Lynxometer', is down from 9% year-on-year in the spring Market Forecast to 6% in the current edition. That's not to say that food and drink inflation won't continue to be a challenge and, of course, there is always the possibility that events such as extreme weather or changes in global demand may affect supply."
The areas spotlighted in the summer 2017 Market Forecast include:
As well as high seasonal demand for prime steak cuts such as ribeye, the
continued popularity of gourmet burger and steakhouse-style menus is
driving strong demand for the trimmings used to make burgers. With less beef coming into the UK from Ireland, which is selling more globally, prices are expected to be high across the summer.
Imports of lamb into the UK have fallen significantly, due to reduced flock numbers in New Zealand, and higher global demand is seeing supplies diverted to areas such as China and the Middle East. At the same time, UK exports have increased as our lamb becomes better value on the continent due to exchange rates. For foodservice operators, this means that some popular cuts of lamb are in short supply and will be commanding high prices.
The market has been volatile over the past 12 months, driven by lower UK and EU production and higher global demand. Prices rose across the spring, and prices for both pork and bacon are likely to be a challenge for the next few months at least.
Now is an ideal time to plan to use a wider range of fresh fish on the menu. The arrival of better weather means that more day boats can go out to fish, and so the range of species available will widen.
As ever, operators who can plan menus around availability will see the biggest benefits, with brill, hake, lemon sole, plaice and turbot all likely to be good
value across the summer.
With farms cutting harvests, which continues to push up the market price, it seems likely that low supplies and high prices will be the norm for the rest of this year at least.
UK-grown strawberries are now at their best in terms of availability, quality and
price, to be followed by raspberries and blackberries. Chefs can also create a diverse range of sauces and desserts using blueberries and gooseberries, and English rhubarb will remain in good supply until the end of the summer.
Availability of cream has been low for some time, placing upwards pressure on price. There are better returns from butter than cheese, so there could be challenges with cheese supplies later in the year if production remains low for a long period.
Market prices of potatoes have been high following a poor UK crop last season; the quality and volumes of potatoes in storage has run very low and imported crops have been needed to make up the shortfall.
After the much-publicised problems with Spanish crops, the arrival of the British
leafy salad season, followed by peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers, will be welcome. UK-grown peas and broad beans are ideal as seasonal summer veg to accompany main courses, as well as UK-grown Chinese vegetables, such as pak choi and choi sum, served alongside spicier dishes.
The media has given plenty of coverage to high avocado prices. The popularity of Mexican-style menus continues to have an impact on supplies, and since avocado plants take years to mature, growers can't simply catch up with rising demand quickly. At the moment, global demand is reportedly up around a third year-on-year, which will put significant pressure on market prices for the next few months.
Although operators have seen significantly higher prices for coffee over the past year as a result of supply problems compounded by the fall in the value of sterling, this should ease over the coming months.
The International Coffee Organisation is forecasting a good global harvest for both Robusta and Arabica beans this year, which should keep prices steady.
Dobson concludes: "The long-term impact of Brexit on food and drink will be decided by the nature of the deal on a range of areas, including farming and fisheries policy, import tariffs and the availability of migrant labour. However, it will be several years before anything changes, and so the best advice to operators is to plan menus around the current situation, make the most of seasonal availability and work closely with suppliers. We'll have plenty on notice if anything changes."
Lynx Purchasing works with more than 2,200 customers in the hospitality and catering sector, on a no-membership and no-contract basis, that offers like-for-like products at lower prices and often better quality than operators could obtain by negotiating alone.
As purchasing professionals, Lynx works with leading suppliers in the hospitality and catering industry. These include wholesalers, specialist fresh food suppliers, catering equipment providers, utilities and specialist service providers, such as telecoms, business rates consultancies and waste management.
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