Potato imports increase by 14%

The number of potatoes being imported in the UK this summer increased by 14% year on year.

From June to October, 750,000t of fresh, processed and seed potatoes were imported, while the same period of 2011 saw imports of 660,000t.

Processed potatoes still account for the majority of imported volumes, according to HMRC, with over 570,000t imported between June and October.

France was the biggest supplier of fresh potatoes to the UK with 52%, equal to more than 24,000t, coming from the country. This is followed by Germany at 16% and the Netherlands at 14%.

The Netherlands and Belguim Luxembourg account for 82%, more than 465,000t, of processed imports to the UK.

Low production in the UK is mirrored in the rest of Northern Europe, which has influenced very high ex-farm prices, said the Potato Council.

Constricted supplies have been the main economic driver, said the levy body. However exchange rates have also had some influence on the competitiveness of UK products both overseas and at home.

British farmers still have 5% to lift, according to a Potato Council survey and harvest has been equally late in the rest of North-Western Europe with 1-3% still to be lifted in Belgium and France.

Britain has fared the worst with a 24% drop in production, followed by Belgium at 22%, the Netherlands at 17% and France at 15%.

However, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium had fewer plantings with drops of 9%, 8% and 7% respectively. Plantings in Britain fell 5%.

Outside of the EU in the US, potato production is expected to have increased significantly by 8%.

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