Freezing Weather and Slow Sales Give Wholesalers January Blues

Published: 24 Jan 2012

Wholesalers have reported trade is in the traditional January doldrums this week, with frosty weather chilling customer numbers still further. 
Temperatures were down to -4°C in Birmingham earlier this week. One wholesaler said: "It is a typical January really. It always takes a few weeks for trade to pick up again after Christmas." 
Another trader on the same market reported that, although some lines were running short, the impact on business was minimal. 
He said: "We have seen some price rises - cauliflower has gone short as a lot of the local gear must have suffered with the cold, but we still have French coming through. It is just that the end of last week and this week have been very quiet in terms of customers, or maybe they are just not buying veg and salads." 
The picture was similar for soft fruit however, and one Birmingham 
salesman said that, despite good quality Moroccan, Palestinian and Egyptian strawberries on the market at 70-80p, sales were slow. 
Spanish fruit is starting to come on stream and, while one wholesaler 
in Southampton reported "oddments" on the market, London importer Lisons said volumes are starting to build. "We started earlier this year than we have done for at least the last couple of years," the company's John Grieve said. "The weather has been a lot milder in Spain and we have had fruit since the first week of January, mainly early varieties such as Fortuna, Festival and Candonga." 
Grieve also reported the marketplace is typical of January and "a bit staccato" as Spanish supplies start to take over from the tail end of the Egyptian, Moroccan and Israeli seasons. 
Pricing for soft fruit in Southampton has held firm week to week on blueberries and blackberries, with fruit from Argentina and Mexico respectively. Prices of strawberries and raspberries have eased slightly in the last week with strawberries at 80p for 250g, down from 100p, and raspberries down 80p at 170p for 125g. 
Courtesy of the Fresh Produce Journal - http://www.freshinfo.com/index.php?s=n&ss=nd&sid=54915&s_txt=&s_date=0&ms==10&ntype=nws

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