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Closure of chip shops in Britain bad news for potato growers

The closure of fish and chip shops due to coronavirus has left thousands of tonnes of potatoes languishing in storage – threatening to put farmers out of business, Farmers Weekly reports.

Although government guidelines allow takeaway food outlets to remain open, 80-90% of fish and chip shops are said to have closed their doors. The decision has seen a slump in demand for chipping potatoes.

Based in Cambridgeshire, potato merchants Abbey Produce usually supplies about 30,000t of potatoes into the chip shop trade every year. But sales director Duncan Negus told Farmers Weekly his company hadn’t been able to sell a single potato for more than a week.

“Farmers in this sector lay out vast sums of money up to 18 months in advance to crop – and if they receive no help, they will go under.”

In its latest Potato Weekly report, the AHDB said chipping markets had largely stalled due to the coronavirus lockdown.

The National Federation of Fish Friers (NFFF), which represents some 10,000 fish and chip shops, said it had reluctantly advised its members to close their doors.

NFFF president Andrew Crook said: “Without help marshalling queues and with government guidelines, we cannot guarantee the safety of our employees and the general public. …This is an awful situation for all. We will get through this and fish and chips will live on.”

Read the full report in Farmers Weekly here

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher

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