Fall in new-potato imports cheers UK growers

By Farmers Weekly staff

NEW potatoes look set for a good trade in the next couple of months.

Imports are down and produce is likely to come to the market in a steady stream, says the British Potato Council.

Total imports for year to July 2000 are unlikely to top 229,000t, 6% less than last year, according to representatives from exporting countries who met the BPC last week.

Indeed, unfavourable weather could see that drop by another 14,000t.

Shipments from Israel and Egypt, which at around 30,000t were lighter than expected, are mostly finished.

Supplies from Cyprus are also down. And because imports during March and April were slow due to frost damage, the seasons total has been revised down to 30-35,000t a fall of 25% compared with 1999. Most will arrive in May and June.

Jersey is expected to ship 40-45,000t of potatoes to the UK this season, similar to last year.

Planting went well, starting in early January and finishing in mid-March, and the crop grew well.

Lifting started at the end of March. Exports to 24 April were running at 2606t, slightly up on this time last year.

However, this is unlikely to impact on UK growers pockets.

Although token liftings in Cornwall have got under way, there is likely to be plenty of room in the market, says the BPCs Rob Burrow.

The Kent crop is unlikely to start until the second week of May and earlier frosts could delay the Pembrokeshire crop by a further week.

“Prices have been fairly steady because of the slow movement,” says Mr Burrow.

“Normally they fall quite quickly, but they have remained at 1000-1100/t ex-farm since the end of March.”

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