GB potato stock levels for the end of November are estimated at 3.6 million tonnes, the highest level for this point in the season since 2011/12.
Amber Cottingham, analyst for AHDB Potatoes, says: “Last December we estimated the GB production figures to be up by around 15 per cent, at 6.04M tonnes, so the increase in stocks held in store has been expected.”
The high production in the 2017 growing season was the result of a five per cent increase in planted area to 122,779ha (303,264 acres) coupled with one of the highest average yields on record - 49.3t/ha (20t/acre), says AHDB Potatoes.
With much of the season still to come, high production figures suggest that it is unlikely that potato supply will be as tight as it was over the previous two seasons.
Ms Cottingham says: “We only measure the amount of crop in stores and not the quality. We are aware that there have been storage quality issues reported, which could impact volume of the marketable stocks later in the season.
“If we compare data taken from our new Potato Data Centre we can see that production last reached the six million tonne mark in the 2011/12 season. However, from this point there are two diverging routes depending on your viewpoint. If we take into account the advances that have been made to utilise crops more efficiently in recent years, coupled with improved storage capability, we may see a slowing down of crop use as the season progresses.
“On the other hand, this is very dependent on crop quality and reports suggest there have been quality issues this season due to poor conditions at harvest. This could have affected quality as crops went into store, which could impact wastage in store, and actually lead to a faster drawdown in stocks.”
The latest estimate derives from AHDB grower panel survey data looking at stocks for the end of November 2017. The survey covers grower held stocks only and does not include stocks held by purchasers, says AHDB Potatoes.
The full survey can be found at
potatoes.ahdb.org.uk/knowledge-hub/publications/all. For more information and a look at data on production figures, visit: potatodatacentre.ahdb.org.uk