The worst growing conditions in more than 40 years have brought misery for Britain’s potato farmers this year. Freezing spring temperatures in parts of the country, followed by the summer drought – the worst since 1976 – have hit growers across the country and threatened to put some out of business altogether.
Now, however, comes a rare piece of good news for the industry. Tesco is relaxing its stringent guidelines governing the size and shape of potatoes to ensure a decent supply over Christmas. The supermarket giant has already taken delivery of some 4,000 tonnes of spuds that it would normally reject.
“We’ve worked with our potato growers to use as much of the crop and prevent perfectly good spuds from going to waste,” said Rob Hooper, Tesco’s potato expert. “We want to support our growers wherever we can – and although some potatoes might be smaller and larger, they still pack the same great taste our customers expect.”
More than a third of farmed fruit and vegetables never reaches supermarket shelves because it is misshapen or the wrong size, according to research published in August by the University of Edinburgh.