The potato industry is facing many challenges in terms of import and retail competition, growing the crop and recruiting skilled labour, Marianne Curtis of Farmers Guardian reports.
Speaking at an AHDB/Catchment Sensitive Farming meeting on sustainable potato production, held in North Yorkshire in the UK, Rufus Pilgrim, managing director of R.S. Cockerill, outlined some of the issues facing growers.
He said: “We are supplying very fussy consumers who are used to a high quality product. There is also a highly competitive retail scene, with Aldi accounting for 8 per cent of the fresh market and Lidl, 6 per cent. There is a battle to keep potato consumption up and we cannot afford inflation – it is a political no go.”
In northern Europe there has been an increase in potato area and a focus on growing export markets.
Concerning crop production, Mr Pilgrim said mint oil alternatives to CIPC were four times the cost. He also highlighted the challenges of harmonising varieties which offered potato cyst nematode resistance/tolerance with customer requirements.