Strawberry supply to the UK is short at the moment causing high prices on the market.
“Huelva has had two weeks of very cold weather where night temperatures got down to 2-3 degrees and only 10-11 degrees during the day,” said Ben Goodchild, Sales and Procurement Manager at Nationwide Produce. “There was also a peak earlier in January which has slowed down production now. It is starting to get warmer again though.”
Another reason for the shortage is the 10% duty on imports of Egyptian strawberries entering the UK, making them more expensive.
“Last week there was an abundance of strawberries for sale in Germany for 1 Euro per punnet, whereas in the UK the same punnet retail size was on sale for between £2.30 - £2.75.”
Morocco has also had cold weather making supply in general short.
Traditionally demand will fall off in the first couple of weeks in January, as people spend less after Christmas, they also tend to eat out less so there is also less demand at wholesale level too.
“Demand is picking up now though, and if I had 50% more product it would sell, but not at the prices we are seeing on the Spanish strawberries.
“Traditionally Egypt would supply the UK market from November until February or March but it is now competing with the Spanish and Moroccan product with early varieties and the risk every year of the quota running dry.'
Spain would normally be the main supplier for the Valentine’s Day market, with top ups from Egypt. Some Dutch and Belgian growers still have good, fixed rate energy contracts and will be able to supply from heated glasshouses, but most won’t and the price is far too high for the UK market. This could mean though that they lose the advantage they have on the early crop and will be more in line with UK production.”
Ben expects the tight supply to last into Valentine’s Day, but said that Nationwide Produce are planning something special this year for its direct customers and all will be revealed very soon…
The UK is facing a mass strike on Wednesday across many sectors including border control and customs. “We saw similar strikes in France a couple of weeks ago which led to delays of 7-9 hours on the French side, but I don’t think we will see such big delays in the UK as we have many agents across the country who have set up clearance areas inland since Brexit. There may be delays on goods which should have arrived Wednesday afternoon not reaching their destination till the following morning and possibly a small knock-on effect from that.”
A great place to work
Nationwide Produce is celebrating ‘A great place to work-certified® status’. 90% of employees said when you join Nationwide Produce you are made to feel welcome, and 92% of employees are proud to tell others they work for Nationwide Produce.
This award is based on an extensive and anonymous survey completed by Nationwide Produce employees. The feedback is gathered by Great Place to Work® (GPTW®), the global authority on workplace culture covers many values which are important to Nationwide – These include ensuring employees feel they are treated fairly, respected, have good camaraderie, positive leadership and open communication.
“We are thrilled to become a Great Place to Work-Certified®” says Tim O’Malley, Group Managing Director. “We’ve won quite a few awards and certifications over the years. Above all others, I’m proud of this one. My dad said to me a long time ago ‘your staff are your key asset son, treat them well’. And he was right, as usual.”
The results verify that Nationwide Produce has created a positive working culture. It also highlights our ongoing commitment to putting our people first. The survey has revealed that 89% of responses were “Almost always true” or “Often true” which is a great result.
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