Tighter potato stocks push up imports

GB potato stocks fell to 900,000t by the end of March – 15% lower than at the same time last year, according to the Potato Council’s latest estimate.

That was 800,000t less than at the end of January, but the proportion of grower stocks relative to January was similar to last season at 51%. “In addition, packing and processing waste is expected to be lower than in a typical year (due to the high prices and tight supply) and potatoes that in previous years may have been graded out, are reaching their intended market,” said the report.

Instead of exporting a net 24,000t between June 2011 and February 2012, GB had become a net fresh importer of 336,000t over the same period this year. “Net processing imports, as raw potato equivalent, have fallen from 945,000t to 903,000t over the same period.”

GB average prices reached a new high of £303/t in the week to 10 May, before falling back to £295.35/t in the week to 17 May. The free-buy average fell by £22/t on the week, to £368.39/t. “Movement was mainly confined to pre-bought and contracted supplies together with imports. This left a limited but steady demand for light free-buy samples, particularly top-quality whites.”


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