Potato prices have soared to new highs, with the Potato Council average rising by almost £12/t in the week to 19 April, to £279.66/t.
That is £31/t more than a month earlier and almost £161/t higher than the same week last year. The free-buy average rose by £9.65/t on the week, to £363.26/t. “The percentage of free-buy trade was higher than the previous week, which brought the ratio of free-buy to contract trade into greater balance,” said the Potato Council’s latest report.
Packers continued to use contracted supplies together with imports, but strong free-buy trade meant prices remained firm. “There was an increased demand for the limited best, bold, whites and samples with good baker content.”
In the bagged market, supplies were becoming harder to source, leading to a stronger undertone in prices, it added. “Those looking for frying samples were having to look to the eastern counties, where prices had firmed quite noticeably.”
Meanwhile, new crop plantings reached about 40,000ha by 19 April – well down on the 72,000ha at the same time last year and 95,000ha in 2011. Better weather had enabled progress to be made in the East, although heavier lands were still wet and difficult to break down.