British potato stocks at the end of December were more than 10% higher than in 2008, at nearly 3.4m tonnes, according to the Potato Council.
It estimated Great Britain’s 2009 supplies to be 6.6m tonnes, including 372,000t carried over from 2008. Utilisation, excluding wastage, was pegged at 2.3m tonnes to the end of December, 3.1% up on last year, leaving stocks at their highest level for more than six years.
Meanwhile, average prices in the week ended 22 January increased by £3.48/t to £111/t, with the free-market average up by £3.33/t to £92/t. “Demand continued to concentrate on best packing and frying quality supplies, to maintain continuity,” said the Council in its latest Potato Weekly report.
However, the recent milder weather had boosted supplies of packing potatoes, with packers starting to focus on moving ample value and secondary pack material, it added. “Loading pressure is increasing, particularly with more movement from Scotland developing. There is little change to prices, but a weaker undertone is reported, particularly as the main supermarkets appear to be easing back on orders to pre-Christmas levels.”
Demand for bagged potatoes was slow, and prices were lagging accordingly, with the exception of good frying samples, which were fetching about £100/t, depending on location.