Source: Getty Images

Retailers may increase shelf prices or reduce pack sizes to mitigate the cost increase

Shelf prices of hot cross buns could be set to rise following a shortage of dried grapes from Turkey.

The International Nut & Dried Fruit Council estimated the size of Turkey’s 2023/24 dried grape crop at 206,000 tonnes in November – a 36% volume decrease compared with the country’s 2022/23 crop.

And Mintec Benchmark Prices for Turkish sultanas had risen 4% to $2,590/Mt by the week ending 26 January 2024, after production yields were affected by heavy rains in May and June 2023.

Relying predominantly on the Turkish sultana crop, the UK is Europe’s biggest importer of dried grapes – a catch-all term for raisins, which are naturally dried, and sultanas, which are treated with a lye solution.

Around two-thirds of the dried grapes imported by the UK are bought by food manufacturers. They are used to make the likes of fruit loaves and hot cross buns, and added to cereals, snack bars and trail mixes.

However, buyers are now looking to alternative markets – like South Africa and Chile – to fill the gap left by Turkish shortfalls.

Year-on-year shelf prices of hot cross buns in the mults have not yet been affected by the short crop, Assosia data reveals. However, shoppers could see shelf price increases on dried grapes in the coming weeks, sources have warned.

Retailers would be “paying higher raisin prices by no later than April” one source told The Grocer. 

“As raisins is a common line that is price matched across many retailers, I do expect the market will wait for someone to move retail pricing first before we see the rest of the market follow,” they added. 

Another industry expert added: “How retailers manage pricing can vary.”

“Sometimes it happens immediately, or they may reduce pack sizes to keep the price the same,” they explained.