Some hope for GB potato price
POTATO growers looking for signs of a price rise may take some solace from latest British Potato Council figures.
They show the 1997 crop area at just 140,474ha (347,111 acres), compared with the July estimate of 142,500ha (352,118 acres). The revised figure marks an 8% fall from 1996 plantings.
Average prices, meanwhile, are stable with the GB ex-farm value at £64/t in the week to Oct 10.
According to John Anderson of the Scottish Agricultural College this average has been held up by forward-contracted movement to processors and, as this trade subsides next month, prices could come under pressure.
But uncertainty still reigns. Latest area figures appear on the low side, says Mr Anderson, who thinks a fall of between 4% and 5% on last seasons plantings is more realistic. "And the blight disaster everyone was talking about three months ago has not materialised, so that has put a bit more back on the shelves."
But potato futures markets have shown some upturn this week. Having been "stuck" at about £100/t for April for a number of weeks, contracts climbed to £111/t by Wednesday, in part due to the heavy rain. *