Potato planter with seed potatoes© Tim Scrivener

Q GB potato plantings fell by 6.6% in 2015 to the lowest area on record, according to estimates by AHDB Potatoes.

At 113,100ha, production was likely to total about 5m tonnes. “Growing conditions have been less than ideal, so yields are unlikely to reach levels seen in 2014,” said the report.

Delayed lifting of the 2015 crop was supporting both old- and new-crop prices, with the first 2015 weekly average price at £185.14/t.

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Plantings in GB, Belgium, Netherlands, France and Germany, excluding seed and starch, were down nearly 4% on the year, at 527,200ha, mainly due to low prices. “The first production estimate for the five countries was lower than 25m tonnes, 12.4% less than last year.”

In the 12 months to May, UK imports fell by 11% to 1.7m tonnes, with seed potatoes down 36%, fresh potatoes falling by 29% and a reduction in processed potatoes of 6.5%, said the report. UK exports fell by 3%, to 459,000t, with fresh exports down 19%, but seed and processed exports increased by 10.4% and 7.7%, respectively.

Fresh retail sales increased by 1.2% in the week to 21 June to 301,282t, said the report. This coincided with the value falling by 6.7% to £276m.