Less potato waste demanded
GROWERS must work with packers and marketing groups to reduce waste in the fresh produce sector or face tumbling values for potatoes, other vegetables and salads in a static, over-supplied market.
That was the message for growers attending a Tesco Masterclass seminar at Harper Adams University College, Shropshire, last week.
According to Doug Henderson of the Fresh Produce Consortium the domestic fresh potato market has seen average retail values fall from £531/t to £492/t since 1996. "And it is falling further behind with inflation."
Supermarkets, which account for 56% of the total fresh produce market, must remain competitive and payments to suppliers could suffer unless waste is driven out of the system, warned Tescos senior produce buying manager Roy Maynard.
Waste, stock feed and surpluses directed to wholesale markets, have a big impact on suppliers income, said retail account manager Jo Parish of Lincs-based Branston Potatoes. Over a fifth of the potatoes handled by the group fall into that category, generating just 0.8% of the groups revenue. "This area must be cut year-on-year."
Inevitably, lax growers will be removed from producer groups to improve efficiency, she warned. The companys own group grows 4000ha (9880 acres) of crop for Tesco. *