Vegetable Market Report

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Vegetable Market Report
07 Mar 2017

Vegetable Market Report

Horticulture

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.
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