Market Report: Summer 2014


Welcome to our quarterly newsletter.  With the impending introduction of fresh UK food regulations in December of this year regarding allergens, we have focused and tailored much of our attention upon this significant, industry impacting change.

Food Allergens: 2014 Regulations

Industry Viewpoint: Fish

The Seafood Industry has already been preparing for the new EU Food Information and Consumers Regulation which will apply in the UK and EU from December 2014. At present all frozen fish, which are processed, must follow specific labelling requirements to ensure that consumers are alerted to the presence of any of the 14 highlighted food allergens (see link below for more information) or their derivatives. It is important to note that 3 of the major 14 food allergens are fish, crustacean shell-fish and mollusc. “Fish” pertains only to saltwater and freshwater finfish, “crustacean shellfish” includes, but is not limited to species such as crab, lobster and shrimps, it does not include mollusc shellfish such as oysters, clams, mussels, scallops or other molluscs such as squid or octopus.

The legislation will help seafood processors better understand the requirements associated with food allergens control labelling. An example of the changes would be “smoked salmon” ingredients: salmon, salt and sugar, oak smoked. Single ingredient food products will not be required to have an ingredient list, so in the name of “cod”, the acceptable market name will be sufficient to meet the allergen labelling requirements.

Overall this will be a positive step for the Seafood Industry going forward and will assist the caterer and consumer in ensuring the product they are serving or consuming have no hidden allergens.

John Hayes: Daily Fish Supplies

Industry Viewpoint: Fruit and Vegetables

The impending changes to Allergen Regulations have had a noticeable impact on my business in as much as the numerous requests for information from my customers has meant that I have to send identical information to different customers in their own formats as there is no uniformity or standardisation on how that information is to be collected. This repetitiveness is time consuming.

Another major impact is making sure that we liaise with our suppliers to ensure that they are complying with the changes, namely more emphasized labelling and keeping up to date with any changes to products.

We also have to make sure that we brief our staff on the changes and the impact it has in the business.

Mark Furniss-Roe: Pavitts

Partners In Purchasing Viewpoint

With almost half (44%) of foodservice operators unaware of the new law (Unilver Food Solutions research) and more than half of the survey respondents (53%) unable to identify certain allergens, there is clearly still some way to go. This, despite over 80 per cent of operators saying they were sometimes, or frequently, asked for information by customers. Some of the large operators have begun to communicate the calorific, nutritional and allergen content, driven by both an increase in allergies, but also by consumers’ desire to eat more healthily. However, this all takes time and money – whether through kitchen redesign, menu redevelopment, new labelling, training and so on – especially more difficult for the smaller operators. Improvements in nutritional reporting and ingredient traceability since as early as 2006 have led to increased transparency in all sections of the supply chain, which is helpful, but this needs to go further. There is still time, but caterers need to start in their supply chain and ensure they have the latest, up to date allergen information and a real-time process for ensuring they are able to communicate this to their customers on their menus. Watch this space.

Diana Spellman: Partners In Purchasing

RPI Summary

Annual RPI for June 2014 stood at 2.6%, up slightly from 2.5% in March 2014 but remaining on the fairly level path it began in October 2013 since when it has fluctuated only between 2.4% to 2.8%.

During the last quarter, beef and fish looked to have tracked one another, ending up down a significant 4.1% and 4.2% respectively. Pork, whilst showing 2.7% increase moved greatly during the period posting a 6% monthly increase in April. Cereals, meanwhile, fell 2.5% despite an increase in the last month. Dairy, is slightly lower than March 2014 (down -0.9%) but is on an upward trajectory.


As the economy improves, so the appearance of steak onto the menu increases, or so proposes a report from Eblex. Figures from this summer’s BBQs may prove otherwise but with 42,000 tonnes of steak sold across Great Britain last year all the indications are this is a popular feel good cut. (Eblex)

From the Royal Welsh Show recently ” …. the sword of Damocles is hanging over the beef industry.” said Dai Davies, chairman of Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC – the meat promotion body in Wales). This he says is due to lack of retailer support and the price of beef plummeting – still a hangover from the horsemeat scandal last year. (Meat Info)

A fresh assault on the need to east beef comes from a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The paper says beef cattle need 28 times more land and 11 times more irrigation water than pork, poultry, eggs or dairy – making it around 10 times more damaging to the environment than any other form of livestock. (BBC)

Whilst beef RPI has followed an overall downward trend over the 6 months or so it is likely to stabilise over the following quarter.



There has been much talk about the Russian food ban on western imports and the impact it will have on many of the UK primary food commodities. For the dairy industry, some experts fear this will be greater here than on other areas of the food and drink trade. Take cheese and butter for example, prices here are expected to fall, at least in the short term, as new markets are sought to replace the significant Russian market now taken out of the UK equation. (Grocer)

Another challenge facing dairy farmers is to address the ever tougher pricing environment following the succession of heavy milk price cuts and to ensure they have sufficient cashflow requirements to meet their needs during these tight conditions. “The outlook is looking quite difficult for the next 12 months,” says Ian Powell, managing director of The Dairy Group with milk price pressure not likely to ease over this period. He also commented that the dairy market was looking “pretty weak” following last month’s Fonterra auction, when the average price fell 8.9%. (Farmers Weekly)

Reduction of milk prices, puts pressure on farmers to withhold investment whilst being forced to implement efficiencies which in turn can compromise cow welfare. If consumers were aware of the impacts to health and welfare, would they be content that buyers are influencing these factors on their behalf?



Two alternative views surfaced as to the impact of the Russian ban on EU food imports on the UK pork market. The BBC cited Mick Sloyan, director of BPEX, who felt pork farmers in the UK might be forced to lower prices due to the resultant increase in the supply of pork worldwide. Mick Sloyan said “This will increase competition on global markets,” and thus “It may have some knock-on effect on the EU market and, hence, the UK,” he added. (BBC)

Pig World editor Graeme Kirk took a different slant and suggested the BBC view had little basis in fact. He cited the fact that “US pork is about the most expensive in the world at the moment because of PEDv (Pork Epidemic Diarrhoea virus)” and whilst pork prices may fall as the market rebalances, the damage of the ban would be tempered by Russia’s ability to successfully source pork elsewhere. (Pig World)

Meat prices are holding steady whilst other commodities are falling. Where feed wheat and cereal prices are low, pork meat is unlikely to rise unless other factors such as exports rise or exchange rates change.



The economic performance of the UK fishing industry has remained relatively stable according to the industry authority on seafood’s latest UK fleet analysis. The survey of the overall UK fishing fleet (based on vessel owners’ accounts) shows the operating profits between 2011 and 2012 rose slightly from 18% to 19% with net profit margins also rising from 11% to 12% during the same time frame. All this despite the challenging economic conditions and the effects of bad weather fishermen have had to contend with which restricted their time at sea over the period. (SeaFish)

The UK is one of 10 EU member states who is facing cuts in its fish quotas after exceeding their 2013 allowances. This on the back of the Russian EU import ban is a double whammy for the industry. Europeche – the Association of National Organisations of Fishing Enterprises in the EU – has said that “The ban is currently causing economic problems to the fishing sector …”. The representative organisation is also unhappy over the lack of action in tackling the impact of the ban. (FishUpdate)

Supply of fresh ocean fish continues to be a global concern, making us more reliant on fish farms. Its estimated that fish farms will produce almost two thirds of our requirement by 2030.



Despite frequent showers, farmers throughout the UK have been managing to do some combining and, where its been possible, have been relatively happy with their yields. However, hopefully any further rain will not hamper those too much with much more harvesting to go. (Farmers Weekly)

UK harvests are reporting bumper yields in all parts of the country. Some yields are hitting record levels. Although there are opportunities to export to France and Germany due to their damp weather, the overall increase in global tonnage has decreased prices which in turn will lower animal feed costs. Look out for stable or softer pricing for chicken, pork and beef.


Other Markets

Potatoes …
The Potato Council is embarking on a high profile consumer advertising and PR campaign set to reach 6.9 million families. The aim being to encourage mothers to trade up from generic whites to a named variety – initially the Maris Piper as the most widely recognised variety. (FarmingUK)

The question is, will it counter the British consumers’ move away from potatoes as their taste for rice dishes and fajitas increases. New figures show that sales of fresh potatoes slumped by more than 8% during the past year with shoppers considering other staples as a replacement. (Guardian)

Eggs …
Do we praise enough the excellent nutritional value of the free-range egg? The salmonella scare created an unhealthy dent in consumer confidence but evidence is increasing on the health benefits, including protein as well as many vitamins and minerals, of having eggs as a regular part of our diet. (Ranger)


Chicken …
It looks like the British public are forsaking their long held love for the burger (43.4m less frozen quarter pounders in the last year) and replacing it with frozen poultry – is this a lifestyle change? We’ll have to review the figures over a longer term to get the full picture.(Grocer)


Lamb …
UK sheep production is up 3% (132,700 tonnes) in the first six months of 2014 (year on year) driven by an increase in lambs and heavier carcass weights. That said, production was lower in the first quarter than that of the previous year but the second quarter is ahead due to a later Easter and the increase in lambs. (Eblex)

Lamb prices appear to be stabilising despite concerns from meat promotion bodies of “cooling prices” during July 2014 according to Eblex. However, prices are still historically high when compared with previous years: “Overall supplies are still expected to be in line with post 2010 levels and are relatively tight when compared with historic volume,” Eblex published in its Sheep Outlook report. (Meat Info)

Green grocery …
Grocery price inflation has fallen to its lowest level since measurements began according market researcher Kanter Worldpanel. This means at 0.9%, the overall market growth has fallen to the lowest figure for 10 years. (Wholesale News)


Stop Press

Long sunny spells after a mild winter and early spring have yielded bumper cereal harvests for British farmers with a bounty of wheat, barley and oats.  Official data will not be available until October but 2014 could go down as a record breaking year for wheat.

Whilst, in principle, this is great news for farmers – it also means rock bottom prices.  Those able to sell ahead will have been able to mitigate the impact of low prices but for others this will present some significant challenge.

Poorer harvests elsewhere in Europe provide opportunity for export which hopefully the UK will be able to exploit. (Guardian)