By FWi staff

AS wet weather continues to plague potato crops, a strong divide has developed in the market.

This is between quality material – which continues to inch up – and standard, which has come under severe pressure.

The bulk trade is divided as growers are applying increased pressure to load average material and best stocks remain on the short side, said a spokesman from the British Potato Council.

Grade 1 potatoes continue to trade strongly, with prices starting at £170/t and many varieties fetching between £200-£250/t.

Demand for Piper is good and has pushed values up to as much as £310/t, and £350 in the East.

Estima is trading between £260-£300/t and Cara and King Edward are between £250-£300/t.

Grade 2 samples have settled at between £130-£150/t, with the value-pack material fetching up to £170/t.

Piper is the largest player in the bag sector with prices starting from £140/t. Most are selling between £130-£180/t with top samples at £255/t. Most other varieties are selling between £130-£180 with best material at £260/t.

Chipping are £120-£ £160/t while some Piper are worth £200/t. Crisping has slipped slightly at £95-£100/t up to £140/t.

The BPC weekly GB ex-farm price rose again this week on the back of quality, climbing £7.63 to £185.91/t. This compares with £78.52 in 1998 and only £55.08 in 1997.

Potato futures have calmed down as many traders sit back to watch what happens on the physical markets. April 1999 contracts stabilised in London at £320/t and closed in Amsterdam at £74.34/t.