Is Christmas 2015 going to be cheaper than 2014? The Mintec Christmas Dinner Index shows that indeed it will be, down 1% y-o-y, although some festive treats will cost more.
Vegetable prices this year have risen by an average of 10%, and turkey by 1%, while pork prices have fallen by 13% y-o-y in the past 12 months. As meat is the largest proportion of the festive meal, meat prices exert more influence on the index than vegetables. Consequently, the overall index has fallen by 1% y-o-y. This is the second year running that the Mintec Christmas Dinner Index has fallen, making Christmas 2015 the cheapest since 2011.
In November 2015, UK turkey prices were up 1% y-o-y, driven by producers buying early in the run up to Christmas. Throughout 2015, turkey prices have generally been higher than in 2014 due to concerns over avian flu globally.
In order to understand the cost of ‘pigs in blankets’, we need to look at the price of pork. In November 2015, UK pork prices were at their lowest since May 2008 driven by higher supply, but also increased competition due to low prices in Europe.
Prices for carrots, onions and parsnips have increased over the course of the year, although potato prices are 8% lower than in November 2014. These vegetables were all adversely affected by hot weather conditions during the growing period, resulting in lower production in 2015.
Brussel sprouts are likely to appear on a great deal of the UK’s Christmas dinner plates, but have not been included in the Mintec Christmas Dinner Index due to their extreme seasonality. However, the average 2015 price has risen by 7% compared to the 2014 average price.
Pulling a cracker is likely to be cheaper too as the price of paper products have also fallen. It is not all good news for UK consumers though, as the milk chocolate index has risen in the past year by 15%.
For milk chocolate, the cost price has gone up by 10% compared to 2014 due to price increases for both cocoa powder and cocoa butter, up by 30% and 11% y-o-y respectively. Cocoa prices have risen due to lower production in the main producing regions, in addition to adverse weather delaying the current harvest.
Finally, what Christmas dinner would be complete without a cracker to pull with loved ones? Crackers are mostly mass produced in China, with the main section being made from virgin pulp or recovered paper. Both have been on a downward trend in 2015 with virgin pulp prices falling by 11% y-o-y and recovered paper prices down by 4% y-o-y. Reduced global demand and the Chinese economic downturn have pushed prices down.
It is worth noting that prices are likely to rise in December as demand grows, so to take advantage of the lower prices this year, stocking up on turkey and pork early is probably the best course of action.
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UK beef prices stayed relatively stable in November, due to a balance of increasing cattle slaughterings and rising seasonal demand. In anticipation of high seasonal demand in December, more cattle were being brought forward for slaughter.