Potato prices fell by £22.33/t in the three weeks to 4 January, to a GB average of £223.30/t, according to the Potato Council’s latest report.

That was well above last year, when the weekly average was £117.72/t. Although contract trade made up most of the sample over Christmas, the free-buy average increased by £8.79/t, to £335.19/t – more than three times the figure at the same time last year.

In the packing sector, free-buy movement was light last week as buyers concentrated on clearing pre-bought Christmas stocks and moving contract supplies, supplemented by some imports, said the report.

“There was a wide variation in prices for whites, associated with sample qualities. Grade 1 was in a range of £340-380/t, up to £400/t for some with high baker contents. Limited value pack samples moved at £200-250/t.”

Bagged supplies moved well over the holiday period, but trade was yet to refresh in the new year, with limited new supplies in balance with demand.

“In the East, Maris Piper and Markies were the main chipping varieties together with some Sagitta, Cabaret, Ramos, Victoria and Challenger. The full price range was £300-380/t, with most moving at £320-330/t.”

Open-ground planting of the 2013 crop was under way in Cornwall on free-draining land.

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