October typically sees a jump in inflation from the onset of winter pricing, a switch to imported fruit, vegetables and salad and an increased demand in the run-up to Christmas. This year, however, the Index indicates a settling of inflation, with the year-on-year measure at the lowest point for the month of October since 2016.
But the new edition of the Index also indicates supply and demand pressures in some categories, including Fruit. Weather and labour issues have negated the usual drop in prices over the summer, and inflation remains at a high level of 14.9%. The category has also been affected by recent high global demand for avocados, especially Hass and high quality ‘ready to eat’ crops, which has left growers short on supply and resulted in a dramatic rise in price. There have also been supply problems in South Africa and Chile, where crop yields have been down 30% and 25% respectively.
The Fish category of the Index has also maintained high year-on-year inflation into October—predominantly due to pressure on exchange rates, since the UK imports around 70% of its fish. Increased demand for salmon in the festive season also forces the price upwards, and coincides this year with a decline in Scottish salmon harvest as cold and turbulent weather kicks in. Alongside restrictions on volume being enforced by Norwegian farmers, this will likely see prices increase here and across Europe at a higher rate than usual. There is some positive news for the category, however, as better than expected weather in the North East Atlantic has seen an increase in the quality and size of cod and haddock catches.
Prestige Purchasing COO Phil McGuinness said: “Food pricing generally increases over the winter months. However, we have had a variety of issues over the summer, which has meant pricing has stayed steady month-on-month despite the supply switch. This should come as some relief to operators, who have been incurring heavy costs and inflation for the majority of the year.”
CGA Client Director Food and Retail Fiona Speakman said: “At the end of a tough year for the foodservice sector, it is pleasing to see some stability in prices. If businesses can secure greater clarity around Brexit, a strengthening of the pound to reduce import costs, and an easing of some of the global supply pressures affecting prices, they can look forward to planning their buying strategies with a little more confidence in 2020.”
The exclusive Foodservice Price Index is jointly produced by Prestige Purchasing and CGA, using foodservice data drawn from 7.8m transactions per month. It contains myriad insights and information pertinent to the foodservice sector and is essential reading for anyone seeking to keep ahead of price trends and understand why they occur. More information on specific categories is available on a subscription basis. https://www.prestige-purchasing.com/services/foodservice-price-index-fpi