27 March 1998

Resist spud imports

POTATO growers must drive down production costs to meet the growing challenge from imported processed products.

Nearly a million tonnes of potatoes, including processed, have been imported this season, said Somerset grower Archie Montgomery, at a BPC meeting in Devon last week.

With much of that tonnage going into big fast food chains, he asked why the UK had no par-fried chip expertise.

BPC chairman David Walker agreed that there was scope for investment in UK production, but only if European processors see a competitive supply. Wastage due to mechanical damage and disease contribute significantly to processor costs and need cutting. "Between field and plate half the crop is lost."

&#8226 Driving down waste is the theme of the BPCs Potato Technology event at Sutton Bridge on May 13/14.