Overwintered spuds fuel price slide

By FWi staff

AS the old-crop season draws to an end, traders are finding it increasingly difficult to sell poor and average crops, and growers are experiencing sliding prices.

Traders blame the falls on the surprisingly high yield of potatoes recovered from overwintered crops.

These added to the excess of mediocre stocks already hitting the market, noted the British Potato Council (BPC).

Despite the lack of interest in average material, firm interest continues for best cold-store potatoes. In particular, quality bakers and packers have remained firm.

The BPC weekly GB ex-farm average mirrored the end-of-season market sentiment last week, dropping 10.59/t to 159.69/t on Friday.

This is an opposite trend to last year, when the market actually rose towards the end of the season.

When the processing purchases were excluded, the ware average fell even further, dropping 14.93 to 167.04/t.

New-crop potatoes remain in short supply, which has helped to maintain new-season prices. And the BPC expects demand to increase further as the week progresses, on the back of improved weather and increased promotion in the supermarkets.

Ex-farm Cornish values have remained steady at 250-275/t, with Kent at about 400-440/t. New-crop potatoes in Pembrokeshire are strengthening at 320-340/t.

Early values for the week ending 14 May averaged at 328.19/t, slightly down on last year when they made 367.83/t.

Futures traders are reported to be nervous for next season as the BPC reported April 2000 contracts lower at 83.50/t on Friday, while values in Amsterdam remained steadier at 83/t for the same period.

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