4 September 2000

POTATO harvest continues apace, particularly of baker crops. Lifting has progressed well in the past week, and some salad and seed crops are now going into store, reports the British Potato Council.

By Sep 1, just under 20,000ha had been cleared, almost 1500ha more than this time last year.

Bakers are experiencing some price pressure as movement increases. Strong demand and firm prices are reported for good packing material, particularly Edward, Estima and Marfona.

In the east, best Edward in bulk is worth up to 250/t, other reds 180-250/t. Whites are at 125-220/t. Salads are priced at 120-160/t as grown. There is strong demand for frying material in bags, with Piper at 100-140/t and other whites 80-140/t.

Trade is slow in the south and Wales with average quality struggling to maintain price. Bulk whites are priced from 120 to 170, reds at 180-200/t. Salads for punnets are worth 200-220/t. Most bagged supplies are fetching 115-125/t.

Bulk best whites in the north are at 150-180/t, higher if more bakers. Lower grades are discounted at 90-130/t. Bags are generally worth 90-120/t, with best material at 125-140/t.

In the midlands, bulk whites are at 120-180/t, reds 150-160/t. Average samples are down at 80-130/t. Maris Piper in bags are worth 100-130/t.

Prices eased in Scotland this week, though clean packing material held. Most bulk semi-set skin potatoes are in the 75-120/t range, though quality material is worth 140-160/t.

The BPC weekly GB ex-farm average settled at 123.50/t (excluding bags), down 1.99 on the week. This compares with 75.99/t last year.