By FWi staff

POTATO values soared last week as price ranges widen on the physical markets.

The increase in ordinary and poor stocks is tending to depress the lower section and price ranges are growing wider, said a spokesman from the British Potato Council.

“Although offers are available, there are few sales of anything with a value below £130/t,” one grower claimed.

Demand for best packing material has increased although the majority of the market is trading between £150-£210/t.

Bulk supplies of top quality are in short demand although lesser grades are widely available, noted the BPC.

Grade 2 material is trading between £130-£160/t while grade 1 samples start at £180/t. Whites are selling at £240-£280/t with top samples up to £300/t and reds are trading at a similar value. Piper is topping the sales at £35/t.

Producers, unhappy with the prices offered for bag material, are holding back, waiting for better quotes.

Buyers are looking for top samples of Piper at £140-£190/t with top prices of £250/t. Other varieties are not far behind at £130-£180/t, with Cara and Edward trading up to £260/t, said the BPC.

Spot chipping samples range between £130-£160 and top material is up to £180/t. Some Piper have been sold for £210/t.

With the quality sectors continuing on an upward trend and wet weather showing no sign of relenting the BPC weekly ex-farm average price climbed £8.20 to £178.28/t. his compares with £78.78/t a year ago and £56.62/t in 1996.

Futures markets inched up during the week with London April 1999 contracts at £322/t and Amsterdam futures at £238/t.