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Analysis: The months ahead for the British processing sector

Processing potatoes supply is still outweighing the reduced demand on the domestic market, according to a report by AHDB’s Alice Bailey (Senior Analyst Potatoes) and Charlie Reeve (Trainee Analyst).

Given that most planting decisions had been made this year when the pandemic hit, this demand erosion has had minimal impact on the GB potato area. Indeed, the current estimate of 119Kha is only 1% back on 2019.

In recent years, the processing area has been increasing steadily, standing at 37.5Kha last year. Using the proportion the processing area made up of the total GB area last year (31%), we could estimate 2020 area to stand around 37Kha.

Based on this figure, and using a five year average yield of 46.2t/ha, we may see the volume of GB processing potatoes at around 1.7Mt this season if there are minimal area losses. As ever, there is still a large tranche of lifting to be completed, so any severe weather could knock this figure.

Reduced imports of processing material may limit availability to an extent, although this is unlikely to have too much influence on total supply levels. A risk does remain though that given the surplus of processing stock on the continent, there may be potential for pressure from a supply of cheap European substitutes.

 Surplus stock from the 2019 crop is becoming unwanted by the market and alternative uses are having to be found. There is some demand for use in animal feed and bio-digestors although the prices being paid for this are limited.


Throughout the last 5 months the coronavirus pandemic has really framed the UK demand picture for processed potatoes. Whilst we have seen an uptick in demand for frozen potato products and crisps from the retail sector, we have seen a huge loss from the foodservice sector.

Unfortunately, it is predicted that the rises seen in retail have far from counteracted the losses seen in foodservice. Foodservice is estimated to account for 55-60% of the sector and it

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