5 April 2002

Marketing board to assist export of Jersey Royals

JERSEY potato growers have received a boost with the formal appointment of the new Jersey Potato Export Marketing Board.

The board will oversee all export marketing to the UK and aims to further enhance the quality and image of Jersey Royal potatoes, says chief executive, Stuart Smith.

But while this should result in smoother and more effective trading, it is unlikely to affect the volume of potatoes exported to the UK, which is relatively static, says British Potato Council market information manager Rob Burrow.

Lifting of early potatoes for export started on the slopes this week and volume is expected to build rapidly if the good weather holds.

Quality should be good, and demand from the major supermarkets is strong, so supplies should be on UK shelves in 10-14 days.

This is good news for UK producers. "The more Jersey crop that moves early the better it is for our growers," says Mr Burrow.

However, imports are expected to be larger than last year, at about 40,000t, so supplies at the end of the export campaign could clash with the UK early crop.

Lifting of earlies should begin in about a weeks time in Cornwall, which is almost a month ahead of last year, says Mr Burrow. This could result in some competition with later-than-usual Mediterranean supplies, which will soon increase as Egyptian imports peak and Cyprus and Majorca begin.

However, a growing trend of demand for local produce by the multiples should benefit regional producers, he adds.

&#8226 Spot prices have improved as contracted stocks become tight. The BPC spot average price rose by £1.59/t on the week to £90.84/t excluding bags. Demand for good quality frying spuds remains strong, while poorer produce is still hard to place.