THE POTATO industry appears to be backing the British Potato Council to continue during the on-going review process, albeit not unanimously.

But few common themes are emerging on how the BPC should change for the better, says BPC’s chief executive Helen Priestley.

“The most common feedback is yes, continue, but it comes with a giant caveat that some things must change.”

The trouble is there is little consensus on what, or how, the BPC should change. That is because different industry sectors place more or less value on different BPC activities, Mrs Priestley says.

“For example, a processor might place less value on marketing, because they have big brand names and consequently are very good at marketing anyway, while someone in a tight supply chain does not have much value for pricing information.”

That will make decisions about how to change for the better difficult for DEFRA, and ultimately the BPC, she says. “The only thing there is consensus on is that levy collection costs are too high.”

Stakeholder participation in the review has been good, she stresses. “Unlike our first review, when everyone felt it was really too early to pass judgment, our strategies are now much easier to comment on, and the level of involvement has been excellent.”

The review of the BPC’s remit takes in three stages: An economic evaluation, a poll and consultation with stakeholders. “I am delighted to say we got a clean bill of health from the economic evaluation.”

Merging with one or more other levy boards is a lingering issue. It will be discussed during the levy board review due to be announced soon. “I just hope it doesn’t leave us in limbo, where we cannot make any changes.”

The stakeholder consultation period for the BPC review closes on Dec 21. “It is not too late for anyone to have their say.”