Concerned about quality?
There are a number of factors that can impact the quality of produce, from seasonality to one-off weather conditions, to delays caused by supply chain disruptions. Here we examine the things that are currently playing in a role in the quality of fresh produce we are experiencing in the UK and forecast what could be coming soon…
The domestic summer fruit season has finished, and suppliers will be relying on imports to meet the UK demand. Do expect fluctuations in quality as suppliers use the last of the summer crop before switching to imported produce. Examples have already been seen in September with the transition away from the domestic strawberries and raspberries onto the continental crop.
The Spanish melon season is coming to an end and expect quality of produce to drop until Southern hemisphere produce arrives in the UK. The Northern hemisphere apple season has been in full flow throughout September and crop quality on varieties such as Gala, Granny Smith and Golden Delicious are excellent within the markets. Similar pomaceous fruits, such as pears, will also follow suit.
The new potato season has come to an end and the maincrop harvest commenced in September. 2018 and 2019 were not successful years for potato growers, with production and yield significantly lower than the 5 years year average.
Following a welcomed dry spring and wet June, the initial expectations of the maincrop potato harvest was promising. High temperatures throughout July and early August limited crop conditions, however the heavy rainfall during mid-August offered some respite for many regions supporting yield and crop conditions.
Albeit with some delays in the lifting in new potatoes, the expectations this year, in comparison to previous, are promising for the maincrop with anticipated improvements in both supply and quality.
Supply Chain Disruptions
Food supply chains operate on a just-in-time (JIT) basis ensuring all aspects of the supply chain are efficient and eliminate unnecessary waste. With almost 30% of food consumed in the UK being imported from the EU and one in five freight vehicles on UK roads is a food delivery vehicle, transport delays need to be minimised to maintain the quality of produce.
The 24-hour French port strikes on 24 September halted all transport between Calais and Dover, delaying the JIT food supply chain operation and ultimately impacted the quality of produce further down the supply chain. Similar delays are expected from 1 January 2021 when the UK leaves the EU and custom checks are implemented at the border.
A two-minute delay to each lorry going through customs will cause a five-hour traffic delay, and this will have a particular impact on short shelf-life goods.
Therefore, following Brexit there will be volatility in the quality of produce arriving in the UK due to the expected delays at each port.