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Shoppers urged to seek out British potatoes to ease farmers’ lockdown surplus

Consumers have been urged to seek out British potatoes on supermarket shelves to help East Anglia’s growers shift the huge surplus generated by the loss of lockdown demand from chip shops and restaurants. Chris Hill reports for Eastern Daily Press.

The coronavirus pandemic left thousands of tonnes of potatoes stranded in stores as the food service sector closed down. Some have been redirected to retailers, others have been sold directly from farm shops and delivery schemes, or sold off as animal feed – while some growers have been asked to reduce their plantings for next year to ease the surplus.

Tim Papworth is a director of LF Papworth in Felmingham near North Walsham, and also a member of the NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board and NFU Potato Forum.

He praised the efforts of processors to help growers during the crisis, and said the public could now also play their part.

“As a grower, I am counting my lucky stars for a number of reasons,” he said “First, I shifted all my potatoes out of store before the lockdown. Then in early March I managed to lift some of last year’s crop that was left in the ground over the winter, we let them dry and re-graded them and managed to move them mid-March.

“But a number of other growers had potato stores destined for April, May or June contracts and all of a sudden the processors had no demand for their products from the food service industry. I would say that the main processors have behaved very honourably and done the best they could to mitigate the problem under these extreme circumstances.

Another Norfolk farmer who found a community outlet for his surplus potatoes is Tim Briscoe of the Buxton Potato Company near Ayslham, who set up a point-of-sale box shop at the farm entrance and is also delivering sacks of potatoes to his most vulnerable or isolated neighbours.

Read Chris Hill’s full report in Eastern Daily Press here
Picture above: Norfolk farmer and NFU Potato Forum representative Tim Papworth has urged shoppers to seek out British potatoes to help ease the surplus generated by the closure of chip shops and restaurants during lockdown. Picture: Adam Fradgley

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