Potato plantings in the five key North European potato producing countries reached a record 548,475ha this year, according to the latest Euro Potato estimate. And growing conditions have been conducive to above-average yields.

Based on five-year average yields and in-season estimates, average yields in Belgium, France, Germany, GB and the Netherlands are currently pegged at 49t/ha, which could see production top 27m tonnes.

EU potato prices have been in steep decline since early April, with new season markets reaching record lows. “Export and free-market or surplus to contract material movement has been generally slow and difficult given the increasing availability,” said the report.

However, more recently markets had gained some momentum, with additional interest from starch factories, stock feed and energy production in some countries.

GB plantings had shifted away from fresh and pre-pack markets over the past decade, with the area intended for processing rising to 28% in 2014.

Exports increased by 7% in 2013-14, to 500,000t, comprising 40% fresh potatoes, 36% for processing and 24% for seed.

Imports fell by 14% on the year, to 1.9m tonnes, with processing shipments up to 1.6m tonnes and fresh potatoes down to 0.3m tonnes.