GB potato stocks dropped by 21% in the year to the end of January, driven by a 24% fall in production, according to the Potato Council’s latest report.
Imports between June and the end of January increased by 27% compared with the same period last year, with fresh imports up by 295% to 381,696t. However, UK exports increased by 21%, to 365,000t. “This is primarily due to an increase in exports of processed potatoes, and could partly offset the rise in imports.”
Tight domestic supplies had buoyed GB prices, with strong free-buy markets underpinning the weekly average price since November. In the latest week, to 29 March, the GB weekly average jumped by £20 to a new record of £268/t, with the free-buy average up by more than £18, to almost £337/t.
New crop plantings reached just 4,000ha by 29 March, compared to about 32,000ha at the same time in 2012 and 2011. “Wet weather and cold soil temperatures have affected planting progress and crop development in GB and north-west Europe,” said the report. “Early plantings on the continent for the processing market are two to three weeks behind schedule.” Old crop stocks across the region were also at historically low levels.