By FWi staff

COMPETITIVE pricing by multiple retailers continues to depress wholesale market, where prices remain fixed and trade slow.

“The main reason for this pressure is to try and bring prices down in line with old crop.

“Today (15 May) Tesco prices for Mediterranean imports were 10-12p/lb for old crop and 31p/lb for new,” says Peter Cooper of market analyst Potato Call.

Imports from Egypt are 40,000t lower than this time last year, totalling 100,000t last Thursday. Arrivals from Cyprus are expected to increase this week.

Jersey imports are now about 10,500t, similar to 12 months ago. There is good movement to the main retailers with most quoting 59p/lb.

In Cornwall, suppliers to local multiples have reported an improvement in volume and prices have remained at 300/t ex-farm.

In contrast, quotes for Rocket and Minerva to the wholesale market have dropped to 220-250/t ex-farm.

Reports today show prices under further pressure. A recovery looks increasingly unlikely.

Movement from Pembroke is going well but prices have eased due to competition from Cornwall.

Minerva and Premiere were quoted at 300-350/t with yields at 15-17.25t/ha (6-7t/acre).

Rain has continued to delay planting in Kent. Earliest Rocket is expected to be ready to lift later this week and open ground Arran Comet in about 2 weeks, but areas of these are down compared to recent years.

Signs of this years slow growth rate are apparent in leaf area index readings, which are 30% lower than the 60% at the same time two years ago.

Last weeks good weather in the east has boosted growth of both open ground and poly-covered earlies. The most forward open-ground maincrops are now emerging well.

The cumulative planting total is 107,791ha (266,243 acres), well behind last years 123,605ha (305,304 acres).

Old-crop

Grade 1 bulk is mainly 50-75/t up to 80-100/t. Best Piper is worth 120-150/t and an odd 200/t for bold grade.

Top Estima and select whites are up to 120/t with Edwards in the east up to 200/t.

Grade 2 material is mostly 20-45/t, with bag prices 30-55/t up to 90/t for most varieties. A few top Piper are reaching 150/t.

Spot processing material is mostly 10-35/t with some Piper up to 45/t and peelers 10-25/t.

The weekly average price for last week was 68.58/t including bags, up 1.43 on the week. This compares with 159.69/t last year.