Horticulture Market Reports

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Horticulture Market Reports

Summary

In general after a slow start the growing season has been quite good. However, in general, farm gate prices cannot to remain static and are allowing little room for reinvestment etc. The presence of cheap imports from the UK has had a detrimental effect across all product lines. Below cost selling and price deflation at retail level continue to undermine the sector.

Root crops:

  • After a slow start to the growing season, yields and quality have been quite reasonable over the summer and autumn months.
  • The continued weakness in sterling and high yields in the UK have undermined the wholesale and catering markets in particular but there have been issues with some retailers also.

Brassicas:

  • Cabbage continues to suffer from reduced consumption. Yields were also improved this year so this lead to some downward pressure on prices from certain facilitators. As above, the weakness of sterling and higher yields in the UK has put pressure across the entire brassica market in ROI.
  • Cauliflower supply and demand is balanced therefore the market is positive with no recent gluts since March.
  • Irish broccoli was slow to establish, however crops did well as the season progressed.

Protected crops and salads:

  • The season, which started poorly due to the poor growth of protected crops, improved throughout the year with consumption proving robust also. We also have some plant disease issues in the lettuce sector which may cause economic difficulties in future months.
  • The reduction in the critical mass of growers in the salad vegetables remains a serious issue. The continued use of tenders and promotions by some retailers is not helping the situation either.
  • There has been a new grower in iceberg lettuce however it has only replaced the area which we have lost.

Price deflation in the sector continues to undermine prices at farm gate level with the retail price of cucumbers for example down 15% in some retailers from 2016. Some retailers who stocked a number of Irish lines have now ceased these lines or have reduced the volume they are sourcing from Irish producers.

Market Report

Summary:

At the moment, we are in a transitionary period between the start of new season crops and the finish of old season crops on many lines.

Many of the root crops are now harvested, with swedes in general now coming from cold store. Due to the quality of parsnips the season has been extended again this year and retailers are being urged to use Irish produce while it is available. The wet weather in March delayed plantings of most crops however, the dry April has meant there were no major issues.

The low light levels, particularly in coastal regions of the east and south east, which had affected the establishment of indoor salad crops in the early spring have improved in April and May. This has improved the quality and yields of crops. Irish peppers are now on the market for the past month however, it is disappointing to see only one grower now remaining in production who can only supply a small segment of the market.

  Root crops:

  • Average yields and quality on a lot of root crops, however the dry April and the cool nights during May has lengthened the season for Irish parsnips in particular and in some areas the season is running close to 11 months.
  • Consumption on certain crops has reduced when compared to last year but this may be due to the milder winter, the impact of promotions etc.
  • Crops were slow to germinate due to the dry spring and irrigation was needed in places however, the recent wet spell has brought things back on track.
  • Some retailers have given small price increases on certain lines but it is not sufficient to cover labour cost increases etc.
  • There has been some improvement on the availability of Irish produce regarding programmed promotions, however the retailers need to increase their engagement with growers on this issue.

Brassicas:

  • Irish York cabbage is now fully available and although demand has dropped it is helped by the reduction in supply.
  • Cauliflower supply and demand is balanced therefore the market is positive with no recent gluts since March.
  • Irish broccoli was slow to establish, however crops under fleece have made good progress in recent weeks.

 Protected crops and salads:

  • The season, which started poorly due to the poor growth of protected crops, has improved over April and May with consumption proving robust also.
  • Scallions are now fully available over the past week.
  • The reduction in the critical mass of growers in the salad vegetables remains a serious issue. The continued use of tenders and promotions by some retailers is not helping the situation either.
  • Price deflation in the sector continues to undermine prices at farm gate level with the retail price of cucumbers for example down 15% in some retailers from 2016. Some retailers who stocked a number of Irish lines have now ceased these lines or have reduced the volume they are sourcing from Irish producers.

Market Report – 17/02/17

Summary:

The weather over the winter period has been quite benign which has resulted in reasonable harvesting conditions for the winter vegetables. Although yields are not spectacular, crop losses due to waterlogging, frost and disease are less when compared with the difficult conditions experienced last winter and early spring. The extreme weather in southern Europe has resulted in shortages of some of the imported winter salads etc. which has led to increased promotion of the available Irish lines.

Protected crop salad growers have experienced low light levels, particularly in coastal regions of the east and south east, which have affected the establishment of indoor salad crops which will result in reduced yields at the start of the season. Despite a number of paltry farm gate price increases from some retailers, growers’ overall returns need to increase due to price cuts endured during the past 5 years. The availability of cheaper UK imports due to a weakened pound continues to overshadow the market particularly on the root crop lines. 

Root crops:

  • Average yields and quality on a lot of root crops, however good harvesting conditions and increased sales due to substituting imported salad lines has helped sales.
  • Retailers still reluctant to increase farm gate prices despite labour cost increases etc.
  • Irish root crops are particularly vulnerable to cheaper imports from the UK and IFA has called on the DAFM, Bord Bia and the retailers to beware of mislabelling. This is particularly a problem with carrots at the moment which are in oversupply in the UK.
  • There has been some improvement on the availability of Irish produce regarding programmed promotions, however the retailers need to increase their engagement with growers on this issue.

Brassicas:

  • Brussel Sprout growers had an improved year due to favourable growing conditions and the higher price of imported product due to low yields in the UK and Europe. The Irish acreage was reduced this year also.
  • Demand of the traditional brassicas improved due to shortage of imported produce from southern Europe and most growers adhered to programmes which left little excess in the market.
  • Again, this winter there were major fluctuations in the supply of cauliflowers but in general the market was undersupplied. However, this has changed this week with a glut of product on the market due to oversupply both domestically and in the UK.

 Protected crops and salads

  • The season will start poorly due to the poor growth of protected crops due to low light levels.
  • Another iceberg lettuce grower has left the market resulting in more iceberg lettuce being imported by certain retailers. This reduction in the critical mass of growers in the salad vegetables has become an extremely serious issue.
  • The shortage of lines from southern Europe has made no difference at this stage, however, if plantings of summer crops has been delayed or inhibited it may reduce the competition in the Irish market when the Irish crops are available and in season.
  • Price deflation in the sector continues to undermine prices at farmgate level with the retail price of cucumbers for example down 15% in some retailers from 2016.

Vegetable Market Report

Summary:   Following a difficult and cold spring, outdoor crops have performed reasonably over the summer and autumn. However, yields would be down on last year, particularly in areas which were affected by drier conditions. Sales of the more traditional vegetables such as cabbage were only average during the summer due to humid weather, sports events etc. Protected crop salad growers would have experienced reduced yields also, as low light levels, particularly in coastal regions of the south east, affected fruit growth and ripening. Growers of a few lines received paltry increases from retailers, however farm gate prices need to increase across the board. Along with the continued threat of below cost selling, the risk of cheaper UK imports due to a weakened pound now overshadows the market.

Reports for root crop, brassica sectors: 

Root crops:

  • Yield reductions of up to 10% are evident across all crops due to initial poor establishment of early crops and drought conditions experienced in certain regions of the country at critical times.
  • Retailers still reluctant to increase farm gate prices despite labour cost increases etc.
  • Irish root crops are particularly vulnerable to cheaper imports from the UK and IFA has called on the DAFM, Bord Bia and the retailers to beware of mislabelling.
  • There has been some improvement on the availability of Irish produce regarding programmed promotions, however the retailers need to increase their engagement with growers on this issue.
  • The cost of packaging has become a major issue across all lines. Even though the retailer changes packaging at their own bequest, the primary producer seems to bear the extra change over costs incurred.

Brassicas:

  • Late start to the season with crops such as broccoli.
  • Demand of the traditional brassicas affected over the summer, but at least most growers adhered to programmes again this year with supply and demand reasonably in balance.
  • Again, this year there were major fluctuations in the supply of broccoli and cauliflowers due to supply both domestically and abroad. At one stage, Irish broccoli was exported to the UK due to shortages there.
  • Retailers guilty of programming promotions when certain crop lines were not available.
  • Brussel sprout acreages are reduced but hopefully less losses in crops this year will fill the demand.

 Protected crops and salads

  • Very poor start to season, similar to last year due to cold and wet. Iceberg lettuce and scallions badly affected, however, the weather, along with demand improved as the season progressed.
  • Due to the loss of scallion growers, more were imported as a result. This is a serious problem across all salad lines as the critical mass of growers in each line is at a minimum.
  • Yields of indoor crops such as tomatoes and cucumbers were reduced due to the poor light levels during the summer however consumption levels were good.
  • There were less instances of below cost selling of tomatoes this year which led to a more balanced market for the Irish produced crop. For the first time, Lidl also stocked Irish tomatoes on a consistent programmed basis while Aldi increased their volumes year on year.
  • Price deflation in the sector continues to undermine prices at farmgate level.

Market Report – May 2016

Summary:  Following a difficult winter, vegetable growers have had a difficult spring, struggling to sow crops and the subsequent poor growth due to wet and cool conditions. Protected crop salad growers have also had a late start to the year due to the weather. Current farm gate prices only cover the costs of production if yield and quality are perfect however; they make no allowances for the normal vagaries of vegetable production. This is very evident in relation to scallions where we are now down to two growers remaining.

 Reports for root crop, brassica sectors: 

 Root crops:

  • Very difficult harvesting conditions which resulted in 30% losses, worse in the south west.
  • Carrots in particular suffered from disease due to wet and mild conditions and the Irish supply was restricted.
  • Retailers reluctant to increase farm gate prices despite labour cost increase etc.
  • Irish losing out due to continued promotions which are being topped up with imports.
  • Complete disconnect between Irish availability and promotions.

Brassicas:

  • High disease levels due to conditions and no opportunity to spray.
  • Demand good due to reduced acreages.
  • Brassicas in very short supply due to wet cold spring.
  • Many acres of cauliflowers and Brussel sprouts ploughed in with one grower ceasing business.
  • Despite higher prices abroad there is a blanket refusal to increase farm gate prices and many growers debating their future.

 Protected crops and salads

  • Very poor start to season, similar to last year due to cold and wet. Iceberg lettuce and scallions badly affected.
  • More produce imported as a result.
  • Tomatoes, cucumber off to a slow start.

Wholesale Market Prices Dublin (Year on Year monthly Comparisons)

 

Dec14 Dec15 Jan15 Jan16 Feb15 Feb16 Mar15 Mar16 Apr15 Apr16 May15 May16
Carrots €/10kg 4.00 5.00 4.00 5.50 4.00 5.50 4.00 5.50 5.00 6.00  5.50 6.00
Parsnip €/ 5kg 6.00 6.50 6.00 6.50 5.75 7.00 5.50 6.50 5.75 6.50 5.75 6..50
Cabbage York €/10’s 5.00 5.50 5.00 5.50 5.00 5.00 5.00 5.00 5.50 7.00 5.50 6.00
 Cauliflower €/8’s 9.00 6.00 9.50 7.00 9.00 7.00 7.00 16.00 6.50 8.50 6.00 9.00
Leeks €/5kg 4.00 5.00 5.00 5.50 4.75 5..00 4.50 5.50 4.50 5.50 5.00 5.50
Swedes €/10’s 6.00 5.50 6.00 5.50 5.75 5.75 5.75 6.00 5.75 5.50 5.50 5.75
Butthd Lettuce €/12 4.50 5.00 4.75 5.00 4.75 5.00 4.75 5.00 4.75 5.00 4.75 5.00

Wholesale Markets

  • Higher prices year on year.
  • Reduced area domestically and international.
  • Cold wet spring across Europe.
  • Euro vs sterling has ranged from 74p to 81p since Christmas now at 78p. Brexit debate having an influence.

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Supermarket Support for Irish lines

Percentage availability of 20 Irish Lines from Jan 2016 – May 2016

  • hort4Lidl still lagging the other supermarkets on stocking Irish.
  • Lidl continue to be a bigger player in fresh produce which is affecting margins.
  • Some lines such as those outside the 20 lines above like onions and peppers only stocked by the main three.
  • Growers not specifically growing for Lidl on some lines only supplying surpluses.

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