Home/Market Reports/Market Report | May 2021

Care Fresh Market Report | May 2021



With dining outdoors allowed, and more people out-and-about, we will see increased demand. Chipping potatoes are expected to be the first to increase, but this hasn’t happened yet.

With snow flurries and low soil temperatures, the cold start to the week paused planting for some growers. However, the subsequent clearer weather has enabled many to push on and make good progress.

Prices remain low overall, with good stocks of cold-stored potatoes.

Jersey Royals are still holding a high price, but we should start to see prices lower over the next month.

Root Vegetables

UK Strawed carrot will finish in the next couple of weeks, and we will rely on imports from Spain France and even some from Israel. One thing to be aware of is that these new crops will have a shorter shelf life.

Parsnips and turnips will also see some prices rise until the main season kicks in.




Broccoli has been very expensive, this is due to the limited planting back in January and February and damaged crops due to the February snowstorm. Market levels are returning to normal and the new UK season is expected to start in mid-May.

The cold snap has also slowed cauliflower growth resulting in smaller curds, but this will quickly alleviate as temperatures rise.


Spanish cold-stored onion is coming to an end and we will be moving over to Chilean onions for anything really large and we will see a significant hike in price. It may be worth considering smaller cooking onions to keep costs down. New-season Spanish will be due to start in the next six weeks or so, but the skin is not properly set reducing the shelf life to be careful with stock levels.

Other Vegetables

If you’re not using UK asparagus now you could miss out, it’s a short season so use it while you can, the quality is very good.

Mushroom pricing has seen an increase after the recent rise in the national minimum wage. There are also a few imported exotics with some minor price increase.

New-season leeks should be available mid-May and we will see a reduction in price as we move away from the imported produce.


We will be moving over to UK salad leaf through May – iceberg, cos and flat lettuce – and the fancy leaf – oakleaf, lollo rosso and lollo Biondi. Prices will reduce as we move away from imported produce.

Spanish salad lines are still available with the new season Dutch crop running alongside. Prices will start high and drop as the season develops.



All UK apples have now finished bar the Bramley apple which is cold stored until the new season starts in August. European fruit will start to come to an end towards the ends of May, with South African product filling demand and prices rising.



May sees a cross over in the melon season as Honduras, Costa Rica and Panama finish and we move over to the Spanish Almeria fruit. Expect all melon prices to rise as available volume drops. Prices and availability will get better when the Spanish Murcia season starts about six weeks later.


UK strawberries will be more readily available in May and the Spanish season comes to an end, so keep an eye on quality and shelf life.

We normally see UK raspberry follow towards the end of May or the beginning of June.


Spanish cherries will usually be available by the end of April or the beginning of May. The early season fruit will be a little pale in colour. Prices normally start high but drop as the volume starts to come through.

Spanish nectarines and peaches will also be available at about the same time, with apricots starting shortly after.

Buyers Choice

UK Strawberries

The UK season now starts mid-March until November thanks to glass house-grown suppliers. Strawberries are native to both the Old and New worlds. They have been eaten since Roman times when they were also used medicinally to help with digestive ailments, discoloured teeth and skin irritations. The strawberries available today are derived from varieties that were originally developed in the seventeenth century.

Care Fresh strawberries


  • From a scientific and botanical standpoint, a strawberry is not a berry, but rather an accessory fruit.
  • Strawberries usually have a right red colour but can come in pinkish and white colours.
  • Strawberries are a sweet fruit, with a juicy texture and easy to recognize aroma.
  • A strawberry can have on average 200 seeds on it.
  • One cup of strawberries (168 grams) has 1 gram of protein.
  • One cup of strawberries (168 grams) has 27 milligrams of calcium, 1 milligram of iron and 254 milligrams of potassium.
  • In 2017, the entire world produced over 10 million tons of strawberries.
  • Strawberries are considered an excellent source of ascorbic acid (vitamin C).



Both old season and new season lightweight lamb prices have increased during the past week. In the week ending 5 May, the GB Liveweight OSL (Old Season Lamb) SQQ (Standard Quality Quotation) prices increased 6.6p on the week to average 296.41p/kg. Prices are up 89p when compared to the same week in 2020 and now 91p above the 5-year average.

Liveweight NSL (New Season Lamb) SQQ prices averaged 358.72p/kg for the week ending 5 May, an increase of 11.1p on the previous week and 101p on the same week last year.

Throughputs at British auction markets for the week totalled 100,300 head, up 10,800 head (12%) on the previous week. New-season lambs are coming forward earlier this year than last year and accounted for 30% of total auction market throughputs in the last week. This is likely to be due to the high prices encouraging lambs to be finished earlier on the farm; processors keen to source them, with lower numbers of old season lambs available.

Deadweight lamb prices dropped back during the last week. For the week ending 1 May, GB deadweight OSL SQQ averaged 644.3p/kg, down 29.9p on the previous week. Prices are currently up by 171p on the same week of the previous year and 181p higher than the five-year average. The GB deadweight NSL SQQ averaged 685.8p/kg, down 0.8p on the previous week.

A few weeks ago, it appeared that the relatively high price levels in the UK might have been a constraint on exports to Germany (and France). But prices have been since been surging on the continent, which is helping to maintain the higher price here.

Imported lamb has seen a 6-8% increase over the last few weeks with limited numbers coming into the country and demand being high the increases are set to continue.


More than 200 outbreaks of avian influenza across Poland over the past few months have sparked fears of a shortage of cuts imported into the UK.

There might be a depressed market for some time. The UK supply chain is ok, but suppliers will be trying to fill the shortfall with UK product, which is already oversubscribed due to retail demand, this demand will no doubt go up, and it is already stretched. The impact of short supply is expected to last between 10-12 weeks and please note a finished bird is ready from hatching in 30 days.

Poland, the largest supplier of European Poultry in the UK, has had an outbreak of Avian flu that resulted in the slaughter of over 20 million chickens last week alone to try and reduce the threat of further spreading. The disease is now widespread across Europe with France culling over 10 million ducks over the last 3 weeks and Poland a further 15 million.

The cost of feed has increased by over 10% in the last 3 months driving farmers to finish larger birds versus smaller birds, thus putting extreme pressure on the smaller size fillets such as 5/6oz. In most cases, suppliers have zero stock of what was a standard size fillet available to the market.

Suppliers of poultry are now limiting supply lines into the UK with most deliveries being short and, in some cases up to 40% of the order, depending on the products being delivered. The cost of boneless breast meat has risen by 15% since 1st May.

The easing of Covid regulations with the outside dining has put demands on what were already very tight markets for poultry and pork, driven by reduced menus centred around poultry. This will be further compounded once the next easing on the 17th May for inside dining opens.

Packaging materials have also risen and are set to rise further which will have an impact on production costs for all species.


Pork prices remain stable with slight movements up over the last few weeks. Last week the GB EU-spec SPP jumped by 2.34p, this is the largest week-on-week growth recorded since August 2016.

Estimated clean pig slaughter at GB abattoirs totalled 177,700 head for the week, up 0.4% from the week before which has been steady for the last few weeks and up 2% on the same week a year ago.

Feed prices have been rallying strongly, and pose a major concern for pig producers. The USDA forecasts the UK to stay a net importer of wheat for 2021/22, which by itself would continue to support wheat prices. The delay in planting the 2021 US maize crop is part of the reason US maize, and so UK wheat, prices have been rising and could have big impacts this year.

The market is set to tighten over the next few months as farmers and processors try to drive prices upwards.

When restrictions are eased, we expect the product to tighten even more and put pressure on pricing.

Pork Loins


GB finished cattle prices have continued to climb in the latest week. The GB all prime average stood at 407.3p/kg, up 1.1p on the week before. This puts the measure 87p above the same week last year and 67.6p above the five-year average.

The estimated slaughter for the week totalled 34,000 head, up 3.5% (1,200 head) on the previous week, but virtually unchanged (-0.3%) compared to the same week last year.

Looking at retail volumes, GB household beef purchases continue to hold their ground. While retail volumes sold dropped back 4.7% year-on-year in the 12 weeks to 18 April, this is compared to the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, with total beef volumes lifting 11% compared to the same period two years ago.

However, as we continue to come out of lockdown and food services begin to re-open, some of this demand will undoubtedly shift back out of home, which could lessen demand for British cattle. The impact of this on GB prices is yet to be seen.

Price increases were seen across all prime categories except young bulls, down 1.5p on the previous week, while R4L steers saw the largest increase (+2.5p) to average 418.4p/kg.

Cow trade also firmed in the latest week, with GB prices lifting 0.8p to average 280.3p/kg in the week ending 1 May. This puts prices 64.3p above the same week in 2020. For those meeting the -O4L specification, prices lifted 1.7p on the previous week to an average of 297.0p/kg for the week.

Estimated cow throughput was up 300 head (3.2%) on the previous week to a total of 10,100 head for the week. This is 600 head more than the same week last year.

The domestic supply side is forecast to remain tight for some time to come. Tighter supplies and higher prices may also help explain why cattle appear to be coming forward slightly younger than is typical for the time of year, a trend not seen for some time. As previously noted, tight supplies and rising prices continue to dictate the market.

Prices on imported beef supply are currently 10-15% up across all primals on previous levels driven by uncertainty in the market and are expected to be in place for the next 6-8 weeks until the market settles and re-opens fully from May 17th. Suppliers are reluctant to commit to volumes and export full containers of single items due to a lack of clarity around sales.