By FWi staff

AN overall price gap of £190/tonne now exists between top and bottom quality potatoes.

Recently lifted stocks of poor and average quality have been more plentiful over the last week, said a spokesman from the British Potato Council, and this has held prices down.

“Quality supplies remain light as growers are reluctant to move sound, dry stocks too quickly,” he said. “And buyers resisted the rapid demands sought by producers in an attempt to keep higher quotes at modest levels.”

Good quality bulk material again led the market this week, with grade 1 Piper making as much as £250/tonne. Most loads made between £160-£200/tonne. However, other varieties were £140-£190 and best packing whites are up to £230/tonne.

Grade 2 potatoes are £100-£130. But even lesser qualities eventually found a home as pressure to increase prices at the base were applied. Prices of £80-£90/tonne were obtained, noted the BPC.

Light supplies helped maintain steady prices for bag supplies, while frying Piper were in particular demand and fetched £120-£170/tonne. Best quality Piper made as much as £200 while the poorest samples only took £80/tonne.

As the week developed the overall market steadied and washed bag samples made £150-200/tonne.

Potato futures fluctuated in London this week but steadied yesterday (Thursday) at £285/tonne for April 1999 contracts, while in Amsterdam April contracts climbed to £240/tonne.

The BPC weekly GB ex-farm average rose again this week climbing £8.46 to £140.93/tonne. This compares with £71.31 last year and £51.51 in 1996. “Lower temperatures and concern for crops still in the ground contributed to a buoyant mood,” said the BPC.

The ware average also firmed his week at £150.27/tonne.