Increased demand sees potato prices rise

Potato prices have jumped over the past week, with increased demand from packers coming up against limited good-quality supplies.

The Potato Council’s GB weekly average price for the 2011 crop jumped by £8.59/t to £177.15/t, while the free-market average also increased, by £5.38/t, to £168.24/t. A shortage of good quality free-buy produce, especially whites, prompted some packers to supplement supplies with French imports, which stabilised values somewhat.

The Potato Council’s first estimate of potato plantings for the 2012 crop was estimated at 121,307ha – 5.5% down on the year. Assuming average yields of 45.7t/ha, that would put total production at 5.54m tonnes – 570,000t down on last year and the lowest since 2007. However, poor weather conditions continued to hamper harvest in many regions, with many crops starting to senesce early. Yields ranged from 7t to 25t/ha, and there was evidence of waterlogging and blackleg.

By 30 June, growers had lifted 1,547ha, with movement of 28,149t (18.2t/ha). That compares with 2,505ha at 25.2t/ha in the same week last year and 1,834ha at 18.2t/ha in 2010. New crop values had firmed to £340-420/t for Lady Christl and Maris Peer.

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