By FWi staff

POTATO prices have seen little change on the week, after a period of slow and limited trading.

“Traders have suggested that slow demand, use of existing stocks, imports, and retailer resistance to further price increases have brought more stable values,” says the British Potato Council.

Last week provided very few harvesting opportunities, and the BPC estimates that almost 19,000ha still remains in the ground, a proportion of which has been hit by the recent poor weather.

“It is still too early to assess the full impact of the frost and wet weather, but provisional estimates indicate 20-25% of unlifted crops could have been lost,” reports the BPC.

Peter Cooper of independent consultant Potato Call believes that it will be at least two weeks before growers can get on the land to assess the damage.

“Some growers have said that some fields will be a total write-off, but others are more optimistic, particularly where there was thick snow cover.

“However it is certain that fry quality has been seriously affected.

“It is likely that we will see more imports, especially of average and lower quality material, and this will keep a lid on prices.”

In the south and Wales prices remain unchanged on the week with bulk whites worth mainly 160-180/t up to 190/t for best Desiree and Maris Piper.

Bagged whites are mostly 105-120/t up to 160/t for best Maris Piper. Reds are worth 100-120/t.

Prices in eastern and western regions also remain unchanged. Bulk whites are averaging 150-185/t, up to 280/t for best Edward and Cara. Reds are worth 200-250/t.

Bag prices remain steady with whites fetching 60-140/t, up to 175/t for best Edward and 190/t for Maris Piper. Reds are worth 90-140/t.

In Scotland, bulk Edward are fetching up to 200/t, with reds worth 100-170/t. In northern England Edward are also topping 200/t, reds 130-200/t. Other bulk whites are mostly 100-150/t.

Bagged Maris Piper are fetching 100-110/t in Scotland up to 140/t south of the border. Bold whites are mostly 75-100/t.

The BPC weekly GB ex-farm average price edged up by 71p to 118.97/t, excluding bags. This compares with 59.03/t in 1999.