Potato prices leap across Europe

By FWi staff

EUROPEAN potato markets soared this week with values gaining about £50/t in Holland, Belgium and France as the full impact of harvested crops took affect.

But on the domestic side the potato market steadied this week following a £35/t rise over the last month, said a spokesman from the British Potato Council.

“There was a general feeling that the excitement was over for the time being, as traders and retailers having absorbed recent increases, showed more resistance to growers demands,” he said.

A number of buyers have covered their stocks in the short term and are now more selective with what they buy. As a result the price gap has widened further with freshly lifted material at £80/t. Top packing varieties can fetch as much as £260/t.

However, the majority of samples remain at between £120-£180/t.

Grade 1 packing varieties stayed at the top of the price range with top prices at £260/t. However, the majority fell between £150-£190/t up to £230/t for whites, while red varieties ranged from £140-£200/t. Best samples made £250/t. Piper starts at £130/t with most samples at £160-£200/t. Top material is at £255/t.

Supplies of bagged material are shorter at present and strong interest for frying varieties has kept prices up at £150-£190/t, up to £230/t.

Following the recent price increases buyers have been reluctant to pay the high prices and some varieties started at £80/t. Most samples are £120-£150/t and top whites can fetch £180/t. Equivalent reds are £210/t.

Futures contracts steadied this week with April 1999 contracts finishing at £308/t in London yesterday (Thursday) and £251/t in Amsterdam.

The BPC ex farm GB average firmed only slightly this week climbing £7.13 to £157.87/t. This compares with £73.46/t last year and £52.06 in 1996. The ware average also firmed at £168.47 compared with £69.27 in 1997.

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