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UK: Uncertainty surrounding potential stricter lockdown measures hampers potato trade

According to the latest Potato Weekly report published by AHDB in the UK on Friday, the past week has seen free-buy trade fall once again. AHDB Analyst Alex Cook reports that movement of supplies on contract continues to hold the majority in potato markets. Repeat orders, in some cases with lower volumes, form the common comments this week rather than fresh demand.

Anticipation and uncertainty surrounding a potential re-imposing of stricter lockdown measures has seen some purchasers await further information before placing orders, meaning demand has subdued.

Lifting of potatoes continues this week, with brighter weather across most days enabling ‘burning off’ of maincrop.

Market Commentary

  • There are mixed reports of demand this week for packing markets. Some reports indicated a better level of demand this month against August. Conversely there have also been reports of quieter trade for some wholesale jobs.
  • With colder temperatures approaching and the seasonal trend for winter meals, better demand for farm shop ingredients could be seen and support prices.
  • With more set skin tonnages approaching market readiness, markets will start to see a greater degree of price pressure once volumes begin to sit on markets.
  • Packing markets are largely able to be covered by contracted material at the moment.


  • Bags trade continues at a slow pace this week. Now that children are back in school, overall tourism trade has subdued from a couple of weeks ago.
  • The majority of orders remain on repeat this week, with very limited fresh interest.
  • Prices have mostly remained steady week-on-week, with little changes to report.
  • Although the EOTHO government scheme has come to an end, there doesn’t appear to be a great uplift in demand for takeaways such as fish and chips at present.
  • There is growing uncertainty over the risk of stricter lockdown measures coming into force. It is currently unclear whether food service sectors will close down again.


  • There is limited need for free-buy processing supplies despite a return from the educational sector. Many schools have not reopened canteens and are asking children to bring packed lunches to eat within classrooms.
  • The majority of demand continues to be fulfilled by contracted material.


  • Exports to the Canary Islands have continued at pace this week. Most movement is of packing material, but there is some demand for frying potatoes too.
  • There have been reports of some movement into both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland but we are unable to report a price due to limited quotes.

Source: AHDB. Full Potato Weekly report here
Photo: Leon&León fries

Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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