Festive staples including turkey, Brussels sprouts and cream are all predicted to rise in price this winter, according to buying specialist Lynx Purchasing.
It's not just uncertainty over Brexit that is causing the inflation, this year's spring floods and the summer's extreme heatwave in Europe are having an impact, says the company's managing director, Rachel Dobson.
All in all, operators who haven't yet secured the essentials they need for their Christmas menus may find some items in short supply
"All in all, operators who haven't yet secured the essentials they need for their Christmas menus may find some items in short supply," she said. "Even where they have placed firm orders, they're likely to have higher-than-expected bills to pay when it comes to settling up with suppliers in January."
Areas the company is highlighting for concern include:
Prices have been higher than usual for much of the year. This was initially driven by concerns over lack of margin that prompted some farmers to switch to other types of poultry. In addition, there has been a constriction on seasonal workers needed by producers, due in part to Brexit, as well as to the improving economy in Eastern Europe.
African swine fever continues to spread in China, as well as other parts of Asia and Europe, creating high demand for unaffected supplies. Pork prices set a new record in August and are expected to rise further.
Overcoming any concerns chefs have about using farmed fish is important in supporting sustainability initiatives in the hospitality sector, and farmed fresh and smoked trout is a useful and tasty alternative to salmon on Christmas menus.
Recent storms in Spain, thought to be some of the worst in over 100 years, led to some fairly extensive crop losses. Prices will remain high for the foreseeable future as growers try to 'catch up'. The tomato is now the most expensive crop to cultivate in Spain, with reports suggesting that costs have increased by 20% in the past season.
Record rainfall in the spring, followed by a sustained period of record-breaking temperatures, has affected cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage harvests, and volumes of Brussels sprouts are also expected to be lower than usual as the peak season approaches.
July's heatwave across Europe did little to help fruit growers, with the World Apple and Pear Association forecasting that the European apple and pear crop will be significantly lower than last year. Additionally, heavy storms in some parts of Spain have caused extensive citrus crop damage.
Increasing demand for dairy from manufacturers in the run-up to Christmas, combined with seasonally lower production, is putting upward pressure on prices. The UK imports considerable amounts of cheese and butter, and whatever the impact of Brexit, European suppliers have other markets for their products as global demand grows.
There is some good news though – despite earlier concerns about the potato crop, this year's supplies are providing good value and quality, says Rachel.
"Most customers probably won't object to a few more roast potatoes and not so many sprouts, but that won't be much comfort for operators trying to manage margins across the whole menu."
The advice comes from Lynx Purchasing's annual Market Forecast Report, which it has just published, using exclusive data gathered from a wide range of suppliers.
- All this on top of a Christmas tree crisis too!