Market report: Firmer potato market on good demand

Potato prices jumped over the past week, reflecting the continued buoyant start to the crop season.

The Potato Council’s GB average price rose by £10.95/t, to £172.01/t, almost £41/t higher than the same time last year. The free market average also remained firm, despite a slight fall of £2.55 to £184.79/t, as available supplies increased in the packing, processing and bag sectors.

Harvest was making good progress, with clearance estimated at 10,000ha (24,700 acres) by 6 August, or 8% of the planted area. That compared with 6.5% progress at the same time last year, and 8% in 2008. But, dry weather meant crops were slow to bulk, and yields would be down in unirrigated areas.

Strong demand for salad crops and chipping varieties was supporting free-market prices, said the Potato Council’s latest report, but packers were using mainly contracted material. “The volume of bag supplies continues to increase, particularly in the frying sector. Generally markets remain well balanced.”

In Scotland, packers were using up old-season stocks. “The full changeover to new crop appears likely to continue until well into August.” Most early crops had now been cleared and follow-on supplies were currently light, it added.

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