British potato stocks were 20 per cent higher at the end of March than at the same point last season, according to AHDB estimates.
At the end of the month 1.19 million tonnes of potatoes were in store, up from 990,000 tonnes on March 31, 2019, and five per cent more than the five-year average.
However, usage between the last estimate at the end of January and the end of March was up 9.3 per cent on the 2019 figure to 940,000 tonnes, which was similar to the five-year average.
AHDB analyst Alex Cook said: “The slightly larger end of March coupled with a drastically reduced forward demand profile points to a prolonged period of over-supply across certain sectors of the potato market for the remainder of the season and possibly into the 2020/21 crop year.”
Despite an increase in fresh potato demand in the early part of the Covid-19 crisis, stocks of pre-pack potatoes were 19 per cent higher than last year at 494,000 tonnes, while stocks of processing potatoes were 27 per cent higher at 417,000 tonnes.
Stocks of bagged chipping potatoes, largely for the fish and chip trade, were 2 per cent higher at 157,000 tonnes.
The sector has been hit by the closure of restaurants.
Prices for the best quality pre-pack potatoes remain high at over £300/tonne but chipping and processing stocks now fetch little more than £100/tonne.
AHDB is spending £350,000 on a marketing campaign for potatoes using its character Bud the Spud and its lovepotatoes.co.uk website.
A trade portal putting buyers in touch with growers is also being launched.