• November fresh produce market update

November fresh produce market update

Want to know how to plan your menu? Want to know what is going to affect the costings of your menu? Our experts have placed everything you need to know about the changing industry in one place. Check it out.


There has been extensive media coverage in recent months over the detection and spread of African Swine Fever (ASF) disease affecting pigs in China and nine other Asian countries. Although it does not pose a risk to humans, ASF is highly contagious with no vaccine and is fatal to pigs. It has been estimated that the disease has wiped out 25% of the world’s pig population, with the recent outbreak in Timor-Leste, a nation less than 700 kilometres from Darwin, posing an increased risk to Australia. Regardless, ASF is already affecting prices in Australia as the spread of ASF across Asia is driving a global meat shortage. This is resulting in an increase in demand for other sources of protein and the inevitable rise of prices for beef, sheep meat and poultry will continue well into 2020 as consumers look for alternative foods to eat.


The shortage in China is ordinarily good news for Australian farmers with demand pushing up prices. Despite this huge market opportunity, the biggest challenge famers are facing is the persistent widespread of dry conditions. Growing regions across Australia is experiencing one of the worst periods of drought on record, severely impacting the ability of many producers to breed and grow stock, leading to widespread liquidation of cattle, lambs and sheep across Australia. Australia has entered a new cattle price cycle, which will last at least years and will see cattle prices rise for the next two years. In particular, secondary cuts and lean grinding meat are expected to tighten in price as falling livestock numbers will mean less production with the biggest loss being females.


Despite the severe drought conditions, sheep and lamb prices have surged to new highs in 2019, thanks to the depreciating Australian dollar, coupled with the demand from overseas markets outweighing domestic availability.


As a whole, the Australian seafood market is gearing up for a steady period leading into summer. Due to quota and closures of fishing grounds in QLD and SA, supply of some Snapper species (Pink/Knobby) will become tight over the coming months. Other reef species in QLD, WA and NT will remain in good supply during the next couple of months with Red Emperor being in abundance. In general, prawn catches have slowed, firming prices as demand grows steadily leading into summer. Larger sizes of East Coast Ocean King Prawns have dropped with smaller grades all being cooked. Whilst the possibility of area closures will increase pressure on smaller sizes; MRF, a subsidiary of Superior Food Services has good supply leading up to the Christmas season. Catches of Sand Crabs (Blue Swimmer) have all but ceased and supply is short, however Spanner Crabs are in good supply. With the pending QLD scallop season opening in early December, Morten Bay Bugs will also become available, along with Oysters currently in good condition and abundant supply.