Sysco gives us an update on some of the current fresh produce supply challenges they're seeing with melons, limes, brassicas and fresh herbs.
Recently, Sysco reached out to us with some updates on the current supply challenges for fresh produce. While there have been issues with several products, the most affected items seem to be melons, brassicas and limes. The primary cause of the shortages appears to be bad weather in key growing regions. In particular, extreme heat followed by heavy rains has made it difficult for farmers to harvest their crops. As a result, prices for these items have increased, and availability has been inconsistent.
Beacon will keep you updated as we learn more; in the meantime, we encourage you to check with your fresh produce supplier for the availability of these items. We appreciate your understanding as our partners work through these challenges.
SEASONAL MELON CHANGEOVER
As Sysco have previously reported, they're currently experiencing a challenging seasonal transition of melons from Spanish to Brazilian supply. This situation has resulted in significant availability disruption, and they expect this to continue for the next fortnight.
Spanish growing conditions have been poor this year, with extreme heat and reduced rainfall bringing the melon season to an end earlier than expected. Brazilian supply has not started yet, but they expect a gradual build to the season as volumes slowly increase until mid-September.
These issues mean that there will be sporadic supply and an increased likelihood of low availability for Cantaloupe, Galia, Honeydew and Watermelon varieties over the next two weeks. However, they expect the Brazilian supply to start coming in from Wednesday, 7th September onwards.
Cantaloupe will be the first variety impacted, followed by Galia and Watermelon from early next week. Honeydew is expected to last slightly longer, but they also anticipate supply issues with this variety.
Sysco will continue to monitor availability from alternative sources. However, quality is likely to be significantly reduced due to a lack of overall availability within the market.
BRASSICA GROWER UPDATE
Recent cooler weather and rainfall have been great news for brassica growers after the challenges of the previous drought conditions. However, flash floods have caused some harvesting difficulties for Sysco's Lincolnshire growers. Broccoli is the most affected of the brassica crops. Still, they expect the situation to continue to improve over the next two weeks as optimum growing temperatures improve growth, yields and the ability to harvest. Tenderstem broccoli is grown in the Vale of Evesham, which hasn't experienced these flood-like conditions, so supply remains positive. Whilst availability is good, some concessions stay in place for round cabbage and pointed cabbage due to lower yields. However, Sysco is confident that a full supply of cauliflower and tenderstem broccoli will resume this week, so there's plenty to choose from in the brassica category!
INTERMITTENT SUPPLY CHALLENGES FOR HERBS
Sysco works with two supply partners to source fresh herbs from Egypt, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Morocco and the UK. These herbs are grown in carefully controlled conditions to ensure they meet the highest standards for flavour and freshness. However, due to the delicate nature of herbs, they can be affected by changes in temperature.
Recently, hot weather across Europe and North Africa has made it challenging to source consistent supplies of fresh herbs. However, forecasted cooler temperatures in the UK and across Europe should improve growing conditions and yields, making the quality more consistent and availability better. They will continue to work with their supply partners to review sourcing, transportation, and handling processes to ensure quality and consistency.
AVAILABILITY OF LIMES TEMPORARILY REDUCED
If you're a fan of Margaritas, Mojitos, or just a slice of lime in your gin, you might be out of luck. A perfect storm of citrus problems has led to a shortage of limes, and the situation doesn't look like improving anytime soon. Citrus Canker disease has decimated lime harvests in Brazil, and heavy rains have disrupted shipments out of Mexico. As a result, prices for limes have skyrocketed, and availability is forecast to be low globally for several weeks.
HOT WEATHER CAUSES MUSHROOM SHORTAGE
While we've been basking in the recent spell of hot weather across Europe, challenges have arisen for Sysco's mushroom-growing partners. You see, the process of growing mushrooms involves using compost, which needs to be cooled quickly. But due to the high temperatures, the mycelium (the spore that is effectively the seed of the mushrooms) has been damaged, resulting in reduced yields.
So what does this mean for us? Well, it means that there may be intermittent supply of button, cup, catering and Paris brown varieties over the next few weeks. However, this issue does not impact exotic mushrooms as they are grown in a different substrate. The good news is that growers are increasing the volume of mushrooms they grow to compensate for the lower yields and the Autumn increase in demand. However, a wider market availability challenge is forecast for the rest of the year. Therefore, Sysco are working closely with their mushroom growers to reduce the impact this has for their customers.
FELIXSTOWE PORT STRIKE UPDATE
As you're probably already aware, over 500 port operatives at the Port of Felixstowe have announced that they will take strike action from 21st – 28th August in a dispute over pay. As a business, Sysco has minimal supply volume coming through Felixstowe. However, their experienced supply chain team is in contact with the port and their global supply partners. As a result, extensive steps have been taken to ensure that customers are not affected by this action, and they will continue to work hard to mitigate any potential impact.
Sysco is closely monitoring ongoing supply challenges and will communicate any updates accordingly. Contact your account manager if you'd like to discuss specific product supply alternatives for your menus.