This past Friday, AHDB Potatoes issued a report in which it is said that grower held potato stocks at the end of January 2020 are estimated at 2.13Mt. This is 15% more than last season and 3% more than the 5 year average (2014-2018).
This increase in grower held stocks year-on-year comes despite the end of November estimates standing at the lowest levels since 2012.
In stark contrast to the end of November, the rate of drawdown slowed considerably during December and January. By the end of January, 58% of this season’s production had left grower held stocks, which was 4 percentage points behind both last year and the five year average.
The slowing of the drawdown rate may be for several reasons. Firstly, the wet weather during this season’s lifting window has presented quality issues for many. As such, much of the crop was moved early, represented in the below average end-November stocks figure.
Secondly, many growers were still lifting past the end of November. Given the conditions that much of this crop would have been subjected to and lifted in, it is prudent to assume that a proportion of this would have been sold straight from the field.
Combined with a potential reluctance to sell stored material on expected market tightness and upward price movement, this has reduced drawdown of storage held material.