Spring has officially arrived, bringing its bounty of delicious seasonal produce. Adapting menus to what’s in season is a winning trifecta; customers crave certain dishes at certain times of year, peaks in supply usually lead to cheaper prices and using locally grown seasonal produce reduces the carbon footprint of each dish.
We talked to five of our suppliers across three categories (fruit, veg, meat and seafood) to get their insights on what to look out for this spring.
Great news to start with, iceberg lettuce is back. James Scarano from Fruitilicious told us “we’ve come off that peak now, we can see the prices coming down and we can see relief in sight for the venues,”.
But according to John Biviano of Biviano Direct, there’s a catch.
“Thankfully, iceberg lettuce supply and pricing are settling, however it looks like cabbage is the ‘’new lettuce’’. I have never seen the prices so high, and unfortunately this is expected to continue for the next few weeks,” he said.
Nathan Lo Russo, head of CX at Foodbomb agreed but warned venues of another category altogether.
"Right now it's all about produce coming back in stock such as the lettuce and leaves that venues have been struggling to get but dairy as a whole seems to be going up with prices escalating across the board," said Nathan.
In terms of other vegetables, James says “cauliflower is on the way out but we’re going to see more salads, rockets, spinach, all that good stuff. Plus, zucchini flowers are also coming strong and are likely to be on special soon”.
Anthony Ponte from Melba Fresh warned us about beans and corn saying, “They will still be high in price for another month or so but should start coming down at the beginning of October,”.
In the fruit department, tomatoes are coming in and we can’t wait for those fresh salads and bruschettas.
“Citrus will be finished soon, but stone fruits are coming into season. Think nice fresh desserts using peaches and nectarines like fruit salads and tarts,” he said.
Anthony Ponte added that plums, nectarines and peaches will be at their best in November and both experts are predicting a great mango season that’s already starting but at expensive prices for now.
When it comes to meat in spring, there’s one word on everyone’s lips, lamb.
For Gavin Kulper, Business Manager at Mastercut Meats, there’s no doubt that lamb is the way to go to refresh menus in the springtime.
“Definitely lamb because spring lamb has come out. Unless there’s a shortage, every spring the lamb usually gets cheaper,” he said.
Lambs are usually born in winter and sold the following spring leading to a seasonal peak in supply that led to the term ‘spring lamb’. According to Meat & Livestock Australia, Q2 was the third biggest lamb production quarter on record, due to above average rainfall patterns which ensured national lamb carcass weights achieved record highs.
In terms of cuts, Gavin says lamb oysters (shoulders) are very popular in winter for slow cooked dishes but lamb backstraps and leg of lamb become more popular as we come closer to summer. However, at the end of the day, “it really depends on the venue, fine dining venues will get backstraps, cafes or pubs will get leg of lamb for their roasts,” he said.
Beef and pork are on the menu year round but not all cuts enjoy the same popularity in different seasons.
“In winter, people want beef cheeks and diced beef for casseroles but getting into spring they switch to steak, scotch filets, t-bones, rumps and ribs which are all big sellers now leading to an increase in prices,” explained Gavin.
Good news for seafood lovers, local fish should be abundant this spring according to Eric Karen from SeaKings. We’ll have no shortage of fresh calamari, King George whiting and local garfish coming from Lakes Entrance. Flathead should be coming back around after a few slow months and we’ll see some tropical fish come down in price such as goldband snapper and spanish mackerel. When asked about the two most popular fish, tuna and salmon, Eric told us that “yellowfin and bluefin tuna availability will be at an all time high coming into spring, especially mid spring,”.
“Tuna will stay at a high price but salmon should start coming back in price. It’s a very popular fish but the price hike it’s had this year has forced venues to take it off the menu,” Eric explained.
The ocean experts predict a great local mussel harvest and recommend keeping crayfish on the radar as the industry should be ramping up for Christmas leading to an abundance of crayfish. However, prices will remain dictated by export.
On Foodbomb you can search and compare prices in real time and quickly adapt your menu to what’s in season. Our team of hospitality professionals can also help you find the right products for your business and streamline your operations.
Image Credit: Somi Jaiswal
Foodbomb is the smarter ordering solution for food service. Order everything you need in one place, find the right suppliers and get full control of your COGSTell me more