This, it is suggested, could also be starting to reflect the ‘price ceiling’ effect of imported alternatives – not least chipping samples from France.
According to AHDB Potatoes analyst Arthur Marshall, there have been continued reports of French supplies being brought in at comparable prices to GB crop, especially in the fresh chipping sector.
However, the overall supply-demand ratio remains tight.
AHDB senior analyst Sara Maslowski said while Great Britain total potato imports for the July-February period were up 5 per cent on the same period in the previous marketing year, HM Revenue and Customs reported exports were also higher.
The level of imports reflected the UK’s smaller crop in 2015/16 and drove the tighter domestic supply situation.
The marginal lift in exports, contrastingly, was a reflection of the demand resulting from smaller crops elsewhere.
She said: “Given the tighter supply situation, many may have expected fresh potato exports to fall this season. However, fresh exports have actually seen an increase for the season so far, up by 33 per cent or 34,000 tonnes, on the same period last year.
“This has been driven by a year-on-year increase in fresh exports to the Netherlands. It is often the case UK fresh export levels are more closely related to crop sizes elsewhere than in the UK."
The estimates for March stocks of domestic crop are not expected until next week.
Given an end of January figure of about 1.9 million tonnes, however, which was low, it is not anticipated the March figure will reverse the picture, despite reports of some growers with good storage capability holding onto stocks in anticipation of the higher price levels.
Looking to the new season, AHDB Potatoes said progress had been well under way on the lighter soils but some heavy ground had remained too wet to work and required a few more drying days.