Happy new year for spuds

POTATO VALUES have edged up in the first week of 2005, pushing the spot price up 27p to £86.70/t ex farm.

The average ex-farm price in the same week was up £1.31 to £85.88/t as demand for quality produce and contract sales held up a light market.

The British Potato Council has re-estimated total 2004 supplies, adding 150,000t to its earlier estimates. That brings the total supply, including carry over from 2003/04, to 6.1m tonnes.

“It is not a significant amount more and I don‘t think it‘ll have any effect on prices,” said BPC market data manager Rob Burrow.

He said that it would make up for the 500ha (1235 acres) of crop already written off because bad weather made lifting impossible. Another 500ha have been left in the ground, and could be lifted in the spring.

But April 2005 potato futures in London were down quite heavily on year-end peaks, falling £1.23 to £82.23/t. A month ago the index stood at £78.67/t.

Mr Burrow also said that the recent slip in the value of the euro back below 70p would not have much impact on the potato market.

“Currency changes won’t have too much effect on import differentials. Even without it [the strengthening pound], imports are still running at a higher level than last year.”

Potato stocks at the end of December stood at 2.97m tonnes, with a 10% margin of error.

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