Broccoli and cauliflower prices rocketed at wholesale markets over the weekend following shortages linked to the UK’s recent heatwave.
Brassica prices shot up by around 30 per cent at London’s New Covent Garden Market, peaking over the weekend of 24-25 June, according to Vernon Mascarenhas of First Choice Produce.
Temperatures rose to 31 °C in Lincolnshire and 26 °C in Cornwall on 19 and 20 June – two of the UK’s principal brassica-growing regions, prompting Mascarenhas to predict the shortages last week.
The produce and marketing director reported that by 28 June prices had started to stabilise thanks to rainfall and lower temperatures, but he bemoaned the impact of price speculation at Britain’s wholesale markets.
“Unfortunately there are a lot of speculators out there who will take a gamble and put prices up on the off-chance a product might go short,” he said.
In strawberries, First Choice did not experience a reduction in volumes, as expected, but fruit quality suffered. “There’s a load of overripe product on the market,” Mascarenhas said. “There’s a lot of Class 2 product out there.”
There were also concerns that lower volumes of gem and cos lettuce would push up prices, but lower-than-expected demand over the weekend of 24-25 June prevented this from materialising.
“I think most retailers had got enough in before the weekend and demand on salads at the supermarkets was not as high as expected,” Mascarenhas explained. “Volumes were lower than usual but so was demand so it evened itself out.”
One of the products boosted by the hot weather was blackberries, with First Choice selling 700 punnets in 20 minutes on 28 June thanks to the high quality and low price of the crop.