17th May, 2013
Know the very latest information on the state of the fresh produce market. What are the best buys and why, plus we will discuss the industry dynamics that have an impact on the price you pay in store!
"I can't put cash in your pocket, but I can help you keep it there!" Franco Lagudi
Welcome to the SOC exchange Fresh Food Report
Please be aware that the sale price of fresh produce can change at any time! We will update this report fortnightly at a minimum and as changes occur in both local and national fresh produce markets.
Sydney. Friday 17th May, 2013.
The on-set of winter in all states is having an affect on fresh food prices - here's what to expect this week. Brown Onions have been holding steady for the past month as far as price is concerned. However, be ready for their retail price to fall by as much as 25% over the coming weekend, depending upon quality.
There has been a sharp increase in onion supplies that have hit the various produce markets in each state. You have South Australian onions which are in their final phase and will wind down over the next month overlapping with Tasmanian onions, which are starting to gain momentum as far as supply is concerned for the winter season. Also, the start of onions out of Queensland is just a few weeks away. Coupled with slow demand the onion price will definitely ease.
Onions are going to be great buying over the next fortnight. Your local fresh food retailer may even have onions on special, so keep an eye out.The Tasmanian onion season runs from around April till October and the Queensland onion season runs from around June to September.
Look for hard, bright, clean, well shaped onions which are dry. There should be no green shoots or soft spots. Onions are renowned for adding flavour. Use them in soups, casseroles, stir-fries, gravies, on pizzas, in omelettes, barbecues and with any savoury vegetable.
Blueberries and Raspberries
Blueberries and Raspberries are still in another galaxy when it comes to price!
The transition from the Tasmanian and Victorian growing regions to the Coffs Harbour and Queensland growing regions means there is a definite shortage of fruit across all markets nationally. Put this together with the onset of cold weather and the strain on supply is magnified two fold. As a result retail price has rocketed.
As predicted last week , blueberries and raspberries surged in price by around 40% in comparison to the three weeks prior. The good news is that the retail price did hit its peak as predicted and as Coffs Harbour and Queensland start to harvest more fruit, the price will begin to drop. As also predicted last week blueberry and raspberry prices have started to ease and expect prices to be back by around 20% over the weekend and early next week.
The cabbage market is on the down turn!
The quality of cabbages in general at this time of year is first class. As predicted two weeks ago, cabbage moved up in price by around 20% and it has been sitting at this price point for the last fortnight.
Strong demand is definitely the catalyst for maintaining the current cabbage price. Cabbage volumes are slowly on the increase as planted crops are now starting to be harvested. Expect cabbage price to ease by around 15% over this weekend due to an increase in supply.
Cabbages should feel slightly heavy for their size. Savoy cabbage should have crinkly, crisp green leaves. Green and red cabbages should have shiny, compact leaves.In many dishes, such as salads, soups and casseroles, cabbage is prepared by cutting it into quarters and removing the hard core in the centre. The leaves are then chopped or finely shredded. Overcooking cabbage can intensify its strong odour -- instead, lightly saute, boil or stir-fry it to achieve best results. Cabbage goes well with lots of things. Here’s a start: apples, chicken, beef, blue cheese, bacon, caraway seeds, coriander, duck, feta, garlic, ham, mustard, olive oil, parmesan, pork and walnuts.
Now is the prime-time for Leeks.
Leeks from South Australia and Victoria are coming into their peek for quality and quantity. Leeks have been holding steady as far as price is concerned for the past month.
Their current price point will remain unchanged over the next seven days. You will find them very good buying over the next fortnight at least.
Leeks are an excellent source of vitamin C and dietary fibre. Look for leeks with crisp green tops. Cut and dispose of the dark green top of the leek. Cut lengthways and wash the remaining part of the leek, rinsing away any dirt. Only the thick white stem and the palest green part of the leek are edible. After the leek has been thoroughly washed cut crossways. Leeks can be added to casseroles and soups or saute until caramelised.
Over the past month cauliflower retail price has been at an absolute premium, with retailers shoring up stock for their stores. As predicted in last week’s report cauliflowers have started to fall in price. They fell by 15% over last weekend and they will fall again over the next seven days by a further 20%. Increased volumes out of Victoria coupled with the high retail price of the previous week meant cauliflowers only had on way to go!
Select cauliflower with a clean, white head and compact flower clusters. The leaves should be solid and the stalks should have a fresh appearance. Cauliflower can be either boiled or steamed, and often served with a cheese sauce. It can also be cut into small raw florets and served with any dip. or added to a salad or stir-fry.Cream of cauliflower soup is delicious and easy to prepare.
As predicted last week, beans fell in price by 15%, on top of its previous weeks fall of 20%. The reason being Queensland is now starting its build-up towards bean production for the winter season and is overlapping with the end of the Victorian season. There is no shortage of beans on market floors nationally as we speak and be on the look-out as the bean price will ease again over the next seven days by around 15%, depending upon quality.
Queensland will be our source for beans throughout the winter period, however it’s a good week away from full-scale bean production. Once Queensland kicks-in expect the price of beans to come back considerably.
Good beans snap crisply. Choose young, firm, straight pods with bright colour. Use beans whole as crudites for any dip. Slice beans to use in salads and stir-fries or steam and serve with sauces or nuts. Beans bring nutritional variety to any meal.
Pink Lady, Granny Smith, Delicious and even Fuji are all on the way back when it comes to price.
As we are now starting to get into the thick of the apple season, most varieties of apples will continue to ease in price. As predicted in our last report, the Pink Lady apples have fallen in price by around 25% over the past three weeks.
Over the coming weekend and heading into next week apples will hold steady as far as price is concerned, due to the increased demand as a result of their decreasing price point and the conclusion of the stone fruit season.
Larger volumes arriving on market floors nationally over the coming months will bring the market price of all apples to a level that will definitely put a smile on our faces.
Pink Lady apples have a beautiful light pink colour with a firm smooth skin. They are very refreshing and sweet and should be crisp to the bite.
The Victorian growing season for strawberries is now completely finished. Queensland strawberries are finally starting to arrive on market floors nationally. The Queensland strawberry season is starting late due to delayed plantings as a result of the sustained torrential rains Queensland received a few months ago.
Over the last four weeks strawberries have been explosive as far as price is concerned. The cold weather rolling in across Victoria had slowed the growth rate of strawberries to an absolute stand still. Extremely low volumes on market floors across the country over the past month have resulted in the price going through the roof. However, as predicted last week the tide has changed.
The strawberry market is definitely on the way back. The high prices of the past month could no longer be sustained and as predicted strawberry market eased in price over last weekend by 15% depending upon quality. Strawberry price will ease again over the next seven days by as much as 20%.
Price is no barrier!
As predicted price has eased on mandarins by as much as 35% in the last three weeks. This has been on the back of greater volumes arriving on market floors and as a result pushing the price down. This competitive price point for mandarins will remain unchanged over the weekend and next week.
Mandarin specials will definitely be around so be sure to check-in with your local fresh food retailer.Imperial mandarin quality is very, very good.
Sweet juicy mandarins are everywhere to be found, so be sure to snap them up. Imperial mandarins are definitely my favourite!
Broccoli will be priced to buy!
As predicted last week broccoli pushed up in price by as much as 15%, on the back of low volumes out of Queensland. However, I can now see this broccoli market changing in the next 24 hours. Queensland is starting to harvest broccoli in numbers and I can see the broccoli retail price falling by around 20% over the weekend and into early next week.
Steamed, used in a stir fry, with a dip or raw, broccoli is versatile, easy and nutritious. To ensure peak flavour and nutrition, simply cook broccoli lightly. Dip broccoli sprigs into boiling water for approximately thirty seconds to enhance their rich green colour and then cool before serving.
Bundaberg has been back on track with sweet potato production for the past seven weeks, with crops flourishing and increased yields. Larger quantities had been arriving on market floors in all states and as predicted over a month ago, price came down by 30%. This current market position has not changed.
Sweet potato is still shaping up as a really good buy over this weekend and next week. It's current price point means it’s a great time to dive in and start buying. Again, keep your eyes peeled for sweet potato specials. Choose clean, smooth, solid, well shaped sweet potatoes. Wash then peel if desired. Sweet potatoes can be baked, mashed or fried to make chips. Sweet potatoes add flavour, colour and healthy goodness to most meals. Raw sweet potato can be grated into salads, coleslaw or sandwich fillings.
Sweet potato are an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin A, complex carbohydrate, folic acid, vitamin E, potassium and dietary fibre, when consumed with the skin on. Red sweet potato also contain calcium, iron and phosphorus
Demand for bananas increased in line with children returning to school two weeks ago. Large volumes on shop floors have more than satisfied this. As stated in last week’s report, banana prices have fallen by around 10% over the last fortnight.
Solid demand will hold the banana price steady over the next seven days. Increased demand due to the end of the stone fruit season will see the banana price remain constant as we head into next week.
Nutritious and convenient you can’t go wrong with bananas.
The lettuce market is gone, like a bowling ball through a wet paper bag!
Victorian lettuce production has been very consistent over the past two months. This week will see Victoria start to wind down with lettuce production, while Queensland will start to pickup. Lettuce price has fallen by as much as 50% over the last three weeks on the back of big volumes and weakening demand. Look forward to lettuce struggling to hold its current price point over the weekend.
As mentioned, this price decrease will be on the back of increased supplies out of Queensland. As Queensland begins to gear up for the winter lettuce season and Victorian lettuce supplies continue to overlap, lettuce will remain a great buy.
The traditional Aussie salad is going to be fantastic value over the weekend and next week; while all varieties of lettuce are of excellent quality. Enjoy!
Tomatoes and Roma Tomatoes
Victoria has been our major supplier of tomatoes nationally since last December and their season is completely finished.
Bundaberg, Queensland. has started to arrive with BIG volumes of tomatoes as of this past week. Increased tomato volumes from Bundaberg, coupled with slow consumer demand due to the previous weeks high retail price, means tomatoes fell in price, as predicted, by 30% over the last fortnight. I expect tomatoes to ease in price by a further 10% over the coming weekend, depending upon quality.
Roma tomatoes are the very opposite. They have been in very short supply over the past six weeks, increasing in price by around 35% for the same period. This high price point for Roma tomatoes will remain unchanged over the weekend and early next week.
Corn will be great buying over the weekend.!
Greater volumes of corn from each state’s regional areas are now starting to be harvested, so look to the corn price to fall as we head into the weekend. Expect corn to ease by around 15% over the next week and you may even find that your local fresh food retailer has corn on special. The cooler weather and a change to autumn / winter recipes mean it’s a perfect time to dive into corm.
Corn supplies nationally are on the decline, due to their slow growing as a result of the much cooler weather. Regardless of the market, corn is still great buying and one not to be missed. Select sweet corn with a fresh husk. Kernels should be plump, shiny and in straight lines. Cook by boiling, steaming, microwaving or barbecuing.
About the author of this article...
Franco is CEO of SOC exchange Food & Wine, the online marketplace for food retailers Australia wide. Franco is a 3rd generation fruit & vegetable wholesaler and retailer - supplying hundreds of fresh food & grocery retailers, including the major national and state chains. He is in the business of supplying and advising retailers on fruit and vegetable price movements, quality and quantity throughout Australia. With his family, he owns and operates two fresh food retail stores: Harris Farm Markets in Sydney's Edgecliff and Mother Nature's Top Fruit Market in Coffs Harbour. His long days usually start at 1:30am and, yes, he wishes he studied harder at school.
Left - Francesco Lagudi at the family fruit shop in Bondi Junction, Circa 1945. Right - Grandson Franco Lagudi, 2012
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