Growers resist potato price cuts

By FWi staff

ATTEMPTS by buyers to cut potato prices last week were met with strong opposition by producers. As a result, average produce values remained at £110-£150/tonne with best chippers averaging £130-£180.

The end of the hot weather and the return of rain aided late bulking, with second early crops and early maincrop varieties reaching maturity. Yields remain lower than last year, averaging 40 tonnes per hectare compared to 43t/ha in 1997.

Quality of harvested crops is good, although growers are finding blackleg, growth cracking, slug damage and scab, although on small scales. Lifting was estimated at 2080 hectares this week, raising the total to 17,343ha or 12% of the total expected crop.

The strength of the Pound and the strong home market continue to be blamed for the slow interest in exports. Sales to Ireland dominate the export market, accounting for 69% of movement so far this season, although there is limited trade with Germany and Scandinavia.

Despite a slight easing of price in some European markets, prices remain firm in The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany due to dry conditions.

Belgian exports are flowing into France and Holland and large quantities are reaching the UK as the price difference between the two countries remains wide.

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