Haggle over Christmas dinner pricing, buyers urged

Rebecca Ellinor Tyler is former editor of Supply Management
20 October 2015

Those serving turkey, pork or salmon on their seasonal menus this year should "hold their nerve" over Christmas pricing, according to Lynx Purchasing.

The latest Autumn 2015 Market Forecast by the UK company that works with the catering sector, says low inflation as well as producers benefiting from reduced feed and transport costs means there's room for negotiation with suppliers.

Managing director John Pinder said: “Most hotels, restaurants and pubs have their Christmas menus in place. The temptation is to agree prices quoted by wholesalers and suppliers to secure core items. However, there’s definitely scope for some old-fashioned haggling.

"In the current market, it’s only fair producers, wholesalers and operators spread the upside and each take their share of the opportunity presented by good quality, price and availability on Christmas turkeys, as well as other seasonal menu staples such as ham and smoked salmon.”

Highlighted items in the latest forecast include:

• Turkey: The cost of producing a 5.5kg turkey has fallen by around 4 per cent this year, thanks to significantly lower feed costs (with stocks of both wheat and soya high), and lower fuel costs. Trade butchers also report that, with demand high for turkey breasts rather than whole birds, caterers who can use other cuts will be able to get very good prices.

• Pork: All pork cuts represent a great option for autumn and winter, with prices flat and ample supply expected going forward. Seasonal dishes such as spiced ham and gammon will be very cost-effective options on Christmas menus.

• Salmon: Salmon prices will remain stable through the rest of the year as a result of plentiful supply as the Russian embargo on European produce continues, making smoked salmon an excellent option for both sit-down menus and buffets.

The picture is less positive for beef. Global demand continues to grow, while UK retailers keen to secure available supplies are often willing to subsidise the price paid by their customers.

Pinder recommended the catering sector consider options such as pork, lamb or fresh fish instead. “As ever, operators who can keep their menus flexible and work with suppliers to feature the best value produce will see the biggest benefits. That will be particularly important once we get in 2016. The first month or so of the New Year is always challenging for operators, and while none of us know what’s around the corner, we shouldn’t expect the current beneficial market conditions to last.”  

The company's market forecast combines official inflation data with insights from across the range of suppliers that Lynx works with.

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