By Olivia Cooper

POTATO markets have fallen again amid heavy lifting in preparation for storage.

Loading pressure has been high against a slow trade, and the British Potato Council spot average price fell by 10.98 from last weeks 100.37/t.

Overall progress is now estimated to be 1700ha (4199 acres) ahead of last year, with 16% of total area cleared to 7 September, says the BPC.

However, prices have been more stable recently as demand begins to rise with children returning to school.

It is widely expected that prices will start to recover as loading into storage increases, and one merchant expects stored volume to be high this year, as current low prices are not attractive to sellers.

Rob Burrow, market information manager for the BPC, predicts a wide price range with premiums available for superior produce.

“Best quality potatoes could be in short supply this year, and inferior spuds are already finding it difficult to attract buyers.”

Poor samples in southern England are making 30-40/t, whilst good bulk packing Estima and Marfona set skin are worth 60-90/t.

Quality problems are also widespread in Europe, with reports of secondary growth and small tubers in Bintje across Holland, Germany and France.

European production is projected to be 4.5m tonnes below last year at 44m tonnes, due in part to considerably lower plantings in Holland and Germany, says the BPC.

Higher EU prices mean that the UK is unlikely to import much produce this year, and chip factories, running at maximum capacity, are now using “minimal” imports.

Nevertheless, increased domestic supplies have pushed UK prices down to 70-100/t ex-farm for top-quality Maris Piper depending on region.