When it comes to pricing fluctuations in the fruit and veg aisle, the outlook is as mixed as English summer weather, reports Richard Ford

The warm weather seems to have finally set in though perhaps not for long with Wimbledon in full swing but it's a bit of a mixed outlook on the pricing front as far as fruit and veg goes.

On the one hand, there is good news for salad fans. The British growing season has started to get under way and some products have fallen dramatically in price. The price of an iceberg lettuce has tumbled 37% to 68p since March, with a fall of 31% recorded since last month alone.

Similarly, Little Gem lettuce has fallen to 78p for a twin pack, down 28% since March, and 17% since last month. Whole cucumbers, meanwhile, have dropped to 66p each, down 31% since March and 15% since last month.

However, another summer favourite, new potatoes, have experienced one of the biggest increases in price in the fresh produce aisle, shooting up 53% since March to £1.90 per kg. Tim Pratt, Tesco technical manager for roots and potatoes, claimed the price had been pushed up by haulage costs prior to the start of the British new potato season. He also blamed the shortages in the Jersey potato crop following the recent drought.

However, with the mainland season coming on stream, prices should start to drop in the coming weeks, he said.

"Over the next two or three weeks you will see mainland English, Scottish and Welsh loose new potatoes in all supermarkets," said Pratt. "Eventually the yield will be much greater and you would assume then that you'd see it reflected in the retail price."

And there's good and bad news for shoppers who fancy some fruit.With little change in the price of bananas, consumers are continuing to pay an average of 97p per kg . The price has been relatively stable over the past three months, falling just 1% since March, and is expected to remain so. It's a far cry from the banana price wars sparked by Asda last year, which brought prices at some retailers crashing down to 38p per kg.

A new front has opened up in the price wars, however. Retailers now falling over themselves to undercut each other on pineapple prices, as reported in The Grocer in May ('Pineapples hit 50p low in big four's price war', 22 May).

The average price has fallen 15% since March, to £1.40 per fruit, with retailers using a variety of promotional mechanics including 50p price points and two-for-£1.50 to tempt shoppers into stores.

While the price of Granny Smith apples has fallen by 5% since March to £1.51 per pack, loose Cox apples and Braeburns have risen by 36% and 14% respectively, to £2.15 and £1.77 per kg.

The price hikes are likely to have been caused by southern-hemisphere apple suppliers reducing ­exports to the UK because they are unhappy with the price that they are getting for good-quality apples here.

The consequent price increases have been welcomed by Adrian Barlow, CEO of trade body English Apples & Pears, as long as they filter through to producers. "Returns to growers have historically not been sufficient," he said.

The arrival of many UK crops on shelf has been delayed by late harvests caused by poor weather.