Timely advice from Graham Coles, Procurement Director, Avendra Northern Europe
Supply chain issues could be resolved by the end of the year – or may still be affecting deliveries well into 2022
As customers ourselves, we all see gaps on the shelves in our supermarkets, and we’ve adapted to this, picking up different brands and products than we perhaps would’ve before.
Flexibility and understanding have become the norm, from our weekly shops through to dining out. So, when it comes to the Christmas festivities, we hope everyone enjoys the moment (we all deserve it!) rather than focusing on what isn’t on the menu.
Nonetheless, to help you plan, here is some insight into how the markets look and the areas likely to remain impacted through the season ahead.
The British Poultry Council (BPC) reported that its members are struggling with one in six jobs unfilled. This shortage means some producers have reduced their ranges and cut chicken output by 10%. This is likely to worsen on the lead up to Christmas, as the industry relies on seasonal workers. It is expected that the supply of turkey could decline by as much as 20%, or 1.8 million birds.
Producers may also decide to rear fewer birds if there is a concern with processing them – labour is needed to slaughter, pluck, pack, and deliver them. Producers won’t risk the cost of rearing birds if they expect to be left with unprocessed stock. It is likely prices will rise as demand outstrips supply.
Will there be turkey for Christmas? Probably yes, but not the wide range of sizes and specifications we have seen in previous years.
Tip: Place orders early. British stock levels will be limited, be prepared to use EU birds.
Pigs in blankets
A firm favourite – we consume around 100 million packs of pigs in blankets each Christmas.
We reported previously on the major issue of a backlog of 100,000 pigs on farms as staff shortages hit pork production. The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA)has said that production of these favourites could be cut by a third. Producers will cut back and prioritise lines, meaning there could be a shortage of supply.
Tip: Pre-prepared lines will likely be in short supply, so stock up early to avoid disappointment. Or consider buying the streaky bacon and cocktail sausages separately and make your own.
There has been a steady supply of salmon being harvested, and prices have remained stable.
Tip: If you have freezer space available, consider starting to build stock while the prices are good. Whole sides are more cost effective than fillets.
UK potato crops have been good so far this year, and prices should fall as the season changes.
Consider building your menus around a “Selection of seasonal winter vegetables” to allow you flexibility. In season in December will be the traditional items including brussel sprouts, parsnips, carrots, white cabbage, cauliflower. Alternatives would be swede, turnips, butternut squash, celeriac, leeks – all great for the Christmas table.
Tip: Fresh vegetables are always favourite, and availability should be good, but to avoid disappointment stock up with some good frozen options. Potatoes store well in a cool, dark place, for up to two months, so buy ahead.
Product shortages and reliability concerns will span across all food categories. With that in mind, consider building flexibility into all parts of your menus, including dessert.
Tip: Build your cheeseboard as a “selection of local cheeses”, rather than specific cheeses, which will allow you to flex it to what’s available, it will still go down a treat!
We are here to help you
We’ll be working closely with suppliers to understand where the problems are likely to be, and what alternatives are available. If you require procurement or supply chain support, please contact our team on 01252 705214 or email@example.com