Potato prices in stalemate;

Tuesday, 24 February, 1998

By FWi staff

POTATO prices have reached something of a stalemate less than two weeks after breaking through the £80/ tonne barrier, say traders.

The average ex-farm price climbed by 65p to £80.90/ tonne, according to the British Potato Council. But buyers are reluctant to pay more for supplies and growers with better stocks are holding out for higher prices, reports BPC market information manager, Rob Burrow.

Although poorer stocks are selling well, bulk suppliers are attempting to sit it out before selling. Mr Burrow says this strategy could eventually push up the value of average crops but the bulk market is currently adequately supplied.

Grade One bulk supplies are fetching £60-120/ t for King Edward, £200/ t for Piper, and £150/ t for Estima. Grade Two supplies are making about £50/ t.

Demand for bagged supplies remains slack and merchants say the trade is still oversupplied. Maris Piper potatoes are selling for £70-110/ t, red varieties for £40-90/ t, and whites for £40-70/ t.

The wholesale trade is also very slow. Best quality reds are selling in 25kg batches for as much as £4.80, with poor stocks going for as little as £2.00. Whites are selling for £180-4.00. Imported supplies sold in £20kg lots are making £5.60-£6.50 (Egypt) and £9.50-10.00 (Cyprus ware).

On the futures market, prices have steadied. At the close of trading yesterday, April contracts were trading at £74/ t (April), and £87/ t (May), and £97/ t (June). November futures are selling at £60/ t.

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