Average potato prices remain stable, although free-buy markets continue to drift, according to the Potato Council’s latest report.

Its average value eased by 74p/t in the week to 6 June, to £160.20/t – almost identical to mid-May. But the free-buy average dropped by more than £5/t on the week, to £130.18/t. Both were considerably below levels at the same time last year, of £280.33/t and £369.13/t, respectively.

Eurex futures were showing some signs of recovery on Wednesday (11 June), with the April 2015 contract at €12/100kg – €1.60/100kg higher than the low reached at the end of May. However, the strengthening pound was eroding the benefit of some of those gains, by making imported potatoes more competitive and exports less attractive.

Old crop demand remained extremely slow, with most stocks still moving on contract, said the Potato Council’s report. “Lesser-quality stocks are difficult to place, influencing some growers to look for alternative outlets.” Stocks in store were in a reasonable condition, although there was some seasonal deterioration.

Lifting of forward new crop potatoes continued across the east, west and south of England, with some light lifting of Epicure and Rocket underway in Ayrshire, 
it added.

Growing conditions were ideal, with early crops full of potential.