Potato prices jumped by £6.54/t in the week to 21 April, with the GB weekly average rising to £193.70/t – its highest level in at least five years. The free market average increased by £5.70 to £204.38/t.
New crop bags were now available, with light movement of Cornish Rocket, Arrow and Lady Chrystl, and prices easing slightly average £1,650/t, said the Potato Council. Most were selling to south-west outlets, but also to London and Lancashire in 4.4kg, 6.3kg and 5kg bags.
In the south, farmers had almost finished planting new crop potatoes, but soil conditions were dry.
“In Cornwall, limited irrigation is taking place on earlies where available. Yields are estimated to be approximately 10t/ha (4t/ac).” The council estimated total planting to 22 April to be 95,000ha (234,650 acres), 28% ahead of 2010, 2% behind 2009, and 7.6% ahead of the four-year average.
Old crop demand was generally easing, with many packers using their own or contracted stocks.
“The best high baker content samples have the strongest demand helped by the Easter break, but buyers are now more selective.” Stocks to the end of March were estimated at 1.958m tonnes, down 11.4% on last year, but 16.6% higher than the 2003-2009 average.