By FWi staff

THE potato market has stagnated, with the divide between quality material and poorer samples trading widely apart.

The volume of new crop is likely to be limited for the early part of the season, noted the British Potato Council.

Piper is selling well and export demand for quality stock remains strong. Demand from Ireland and the Canaries has eased slightly, although growing interest has been seen from Spain and Portugal.

Unsettled weather last week saw a frenzy of activity on the land between the showers, said a spokesman from the BPC.

“Nevertheless, supplies remain adequate as growers continue to unload volume from ambient stores and offer more, surprisingly sound, freshly lifted crops,” he added.

Bulk grade 1 remain stable at £180-£200/t, with middle range quality between £210-£250/t. Best Estima are at £280-£310/t, Edward at £280/t and Cara £260-320/t. Piper is fetching about £280-£300/t.

Grade 2 material has eased at £110-£160, although some samples are £170-£180/t. Poorer samples have dropped to between £80-£100/t.

Early season has failed to maintain momentum in the bag market, although prices remain steady, noted the BPC.

Red varieties, including Cara, start at £120/t, with many at £140-£180/t, and best samples fetching as much as £260/t. Some Edwards are £280/t.

Piper starts at £140/t, with frying samples stronger at £170-£190/t. Top material is between £230-£260/t.

The BPC weekly GB ex-farm average price has fallen further over the week, on the back of continued pressure to load questionable stocks with little quality material about.

The average price slipped £3.77 to £174.28/t over the week, compared with £87.61/t last year and £54.93/t in 1997. The ware average is also down falling £4.78 to £180.89/t.

Despite these falls on the spot market, the futures market remained firm in London on Friday, closing at £299/t for April deliveries. But in Amsterdam, values failed to sustain, falling to £175/t for the same period.