By FWi staff

THE potato trade has picked up over the past couple of weeks, with producers keen to move stocks.

But they remain in no hurry to sell their best material, and the range in price is growing wider, said a spokesman from the British Potato Council.

There are more growers with full stores wanting to unload, one trader commented, “particularly from ambient facilities where sprouts are appearing.”

Samples are now ranging between £80/t for grade 2 samples to £340/t for best-quality grade 1 material.

There is a strong demand for bulk material,. with grade 2 samples fetching between £120-£140/t.

Estima and Piper can fetch up to £150/t. Grade 1 material is starting at £160/t with many samples trading between £220-£250/t. Estima and Cara can fetch up top £300, with Piper at 340/t.

The bag trade had a difficult week and trade remains slow, noted the BPC. Poor samples are vulnerable and start at £80/t, although most are from £130-£180, with best frying Piper boosting the sector at £200-250/t.

Top white samples are trading at £200/t, with Cara at £250/t and Edward at £260/t.

The processing market remains strong with limited supplies, and chipping prices start between £60-£80/t. Most samples are between £120-£150, with top Piper samples up to £210/t.

With an increased number of potatoes entering the market last week, prices failed to climb. The BPC weekly ex-farm average price inched up just 39p to £170.08/t compared with £77.98 in 1998 and £56.04 in 1997, noted the BPC.

With a slow start to trade at the beginning of the month, futures came under pressure and April 1999 contracts fell £30/t over the week. However, values rallied on Friday to finish at £313/t in London and £236/t in Amsterdam.