Potatoes maintain record high prices

British potato production fell by 24% this year, according to an updated estimate by the Potato Council. Based on its grower panel survey, it estimated yields to be 38.1t/ha – 0.7t/ha higher than its original estimate but 9.3t/ha below last year. With a planted area at 121,800ha (5% down on last year), total production was the lowest since 1976, at 4.64m tonnes.

“The end of season lifting estimate indicates a smaller unlifted area than previously reported, at less than 5% of total planted area,” said the report. Potato yields were net of crop losses and on-farm grading waste. “Anecdotal evidence suggests that, given conditions this year and the high prices that exist in the market, utilisation by packers and processors is expected to be higher due to changes in quality and size specification. Overall packing and processing waste is expected to be lower than in a typical year.”

The British weekly average price reached a new high of £245.63/t in the week to 14 December – £9.40/t up on the previous week. The free-buy average rose by £4.82/t, to £326.40/t. “Demand eased as packers concentrated on utilising pre-bought stocks in the build-up to Christmas.”

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