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Potato markets firm on supply worries after challenging weather

Potato prices have started to firm up, with supplies expected to be tighter due to the difficult weather.

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Potato markets firm on supply worries

AHDB analyst James Webster said while those with irrigation had found the drought situation easier than those without, tubers had struggled to gain bulk.

 

“Rains in recent weeks will have helped relieve some irrigation needs, but could raise the risk of secondary growth and cracking,” he said.

 

Plantings

 

In the first AHDB estimate of total potato plantings for the 2018/19 crop year, released on August 2, we highlighted the area planted to the crop was provisionally estimated to be down 3 per cent at 119,000ha.


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“There has so far been variability in the yields we have had reported, depending on soil type and irrigation availability,” he said, suggesting yields 10 per cent below the five-year average could mean production drops by 16 per cent year on year.

 

This has led to prices starting to firm in some markets for new and old crop potatoes.

 

“Furthermore, we have seen some specifications widened to help manage variability, particularly in salad samples.”

 

However, as the 2017/18 crop was ‘sizeable’ the usage of old crop has stretched.

 

He added farmers should look at the AHDB potato data centre and potato weekly publication for updates on price, area and production.

 

Contracts

 

There have been calls for a pan-north western European approach to contracts from the North-Western European Potato Growers Foundation, as growers across the region struggle with similar conditions.

 

About 70 per cent of consumption in mainland North-Western European Potato Growers (NEPG) countries was contracted and the group called on the whole industry to reconsider contracts for the future, as growers report concerns over fulfilling volumes.

 

Scotland may have fared better than other parts of the UK and Europe in the extreme weather, according to NFU Scotland’s Potatoes Working Group chairman, Pete Grewar.

 

Plantings were on average two weeks late, compared to four and eight weeks behind in other parts of Europe.

 

Mr Grewer said in general low rainfall and higher temperatures were welcome, with yields falling but quality ‘exceptionally good’, allowing the whole supply chain to have better utilisation of the crop.

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