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Largest UK potato stocks in eight years

UK potato stock levels held by growers are estimated at 2.4million tonnes – the largest end-January stock figure since 2010, according to an AHDB survey.


Abby   Kellett

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Abby   Kellett
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Compared to last year, growers are holding an extra 492 thousand tonnes of potatoes. The 25 per cent increase reflects the size of the 2017 potato crop, which was estimated at around 6.04 million tonnes.

 

End-Jan potato stock estimates (2010-2018)

End-Jan stocks

2010/11

2011/12

2012/13

2013/14

2014/15

2015/16

2016/17

2017/18

Estimate (million tonnes)

2.2

2.2

1.7

2.1

2.3

2.0

1.9

2.4

Source: AHDB

 

AHDB analyst Amber Cottingham says: “The largest increase in production in the 2017 season has come from the pre-pack sector, up more than 15.6 per cent year-on-year. Both the planted area and the yields for this sector increased, with the planted area up by almost 4,000ha and yields in excess of 49t/ha.

 

“A more surprising production increase came from the processing sector, which actually saw a small decrease in planted area. Despite this, growers achieved an average yield increase of almost 5t/ha on the year - a consequence of growers switching to higher yielding varieties. This has meant production for this sector rose by more than 200,000 tonnes.”


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Drawdown rate

 

While end-January stocks held by growers are said to be the highest since 2010, the rate of drawdown from end-November to end-January has also been at a record pace. Between the end-November to end-January period, 1.19 million tonnes was drawn from grower’s stores, 14 per cent more than in 2016/2017.

 

Peter Collier, AHDB arable analyst, says: “One explanation for the drawdown rate is a greater level of waste in this year’s crop. In order to fulfil the same finished product requirement, there has therefore been a larger volume requirement from stock.

 

“Additionally, there has been an increase in consumer purchases this marketing season. The volume of fresh potatoes sold were up 3.6 per cent in the three months to the end of January, compared to the same period the previous year. Chilled and ambient processed potatoes also saw increased sales in both value and volume in the same period, with crisp sales up 4.9 per cent by volume.”

 

Despite this season’s high production, there may be late season supply pressures still to come, warns Mr Collier. “The delayed, wet start to 2018/19 earlies planting could see this marketing season extended, causing a tightening of supplies before the new crop is lifted.”

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