Enjoy Your Christmas Dinner – Every Penny’s Worth

Wondering why your favourite restaurant is charging more this year for Christmas dinner, or why your food shopping seems higher than before? Food and beverage supply analytics firm Mintec has been tracking the prices of the food commodities that go into our Christmas dinners, and compares them to those of last year.

Basically, the Mintec Christmas dinner index (comprising meat, vegetables, Yorkshire puddings and traditional Christmas pudding) shows prices of our favourite festive foods are currently 20% more expensive than at this time last year. “Whilst we were all enjoying this summer’s heatwave, our vegetables, wheat crops and herd pastures were suffering and the price of the hot British summer has found its way onto our Christmas plates,” they say.

In a breakdown of the effects on the main foods by price, they find:

Turkey:  The Mintec price of UK turkey in November is down 0.2% y-o-y. However, the average Mintec price of UK turkey between January and November in 2018 is 8% higher than last year’s average of the corresponding period. Supply has not been an issue as turkey chick hatchings and turkey meat production in the UK are either level or greater on average than in 2017. It is actually feed costs that are behind this price increase as between January and November this year, poultry compound feed costs in the UK have grown 3% y-o-y.

Potatoes: Mintec’s potato prices in the UK in November are up 46% y-o-y due to lower production, driven by hot and dry weather conditions during summer. Potato plantings were delayed because of the wet spring and heat and dry weather wilted the plants. Carrots and Parsnips: Carrot prices in November 2018 in the UK are up 56% y-o-y and have reached a 4-year high. Brussel sprouts: Mintec prices for Brussel sprouts are up 68% y-o-y in November 2018 in the UK.

And if you are baking your own Yorkshire puddings, then watch out for higher flour costs:

Wheat: Overall, wheat prices are more expensive this year, up 25% y-o-y in 2018 compared to same time in November 2017. Milk: Mintec prices for UK milk in November are down 6% y-o-y. Despite this, milk prices in 2018 are still running above the five-year average. Eggs: Mintec prices for UK eggs in November are up 1% y-o-y.

And it doesn't get any cheaper for our vegetarians either, dried fruits in our nut roasts and in our Christmas Puddings are also affected: global sugar inventories are forecast to grow to a record high in 2018/19 at 53m tonnes, up 3% y-o-y, as a large increase in stocks has been projected for India, and more than offsets declines seen for the EU and China. The Mintec prices for Californian raisins increased in 2017 following lower harvest last year and have remained at inflated levels throughout 2017/18. Prices are currently 12% higher y-o-y. Since last December, almond prices first rose substantially towards the end of May as stocks from the last season were scarce. In recent weeks, prices have picked up again, currently up 23% y-o-y. The market for sultanas has been driven by a stronger Turkish lira and lower supplies as this year’s crop in Turkey has been officially estimated at 280,000 tonnes, down 8% y-o-y. Heavy rains and hail damage has caused supplies to tighten. Trade sources suggest the crop could be even shorter. A large premium seen for US raisins has caused the demand for Turkish sultanas to strengthen, further supporting the price trend. The November Mintec price for Turkish sultanas has gone up just over 50% y-o-y.

There is a longer description of the key price rises and the explanations behind them over on our US site, together with accompanying graphs to show the comparisons, read that here. But overall, Mintec reports that the hot, dry summer substantially reduced production levels of vegetables and potatoes, limiting supply and pushing prices up. Damaged crops affected flour supplies and dried out pastures, increasing demand for animal feed. Taken in total, along with the higher prices in the dried fruit sector due to lower harvests and declines in EU sugar stocks, this all add up to a 20% more expensive Christmas dinner. So enjoy every mouthful!

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