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International trade remains slow in Britain at the start of the 2020/21 season

The latest HMRC trade data shows that exports of fresh potatoes (both ware and seed) were down significantly in July 2020 compared to the start of last season (Jul-19). According to an AHDB news report,

imports of fresh potatoes (excluding seed) were also down in July 2020. For processed potato products the story was slightly different, writes Alice Bailey, Senior Analyst Potatoes. An increased volume of processed potato products have moved out of the UK, but less imported compared to July 2019.

Exports

Export markets have been a little subdued towards the end of the 2019-20 season due to the coronavirus pandemic and this has caused a sluggish start to the new season (2020-21). In July 2020 exports of fresh (ware) potatoes, at 6.85Kt, were down 63% year-on-year and 33% against the 5-year average.

Processed potato products exports are, in contrast to fresh, up 23% year-on-year. July exports of processed products totalled 10.02Kt with the Republic of Ireland being the top destination. Similarly to the 5-year average for July exports, c.60% of processed potato products have moved to Ireland and the Netherlands combined.

Imports

Just as exports of fresh ware potatoes, imports in July are also down but to a lesser extent (-32% year-on-year and -6% vs 5-year average). A noticeable difference for fresh imports is the volume imported from the Netherlands. There was an 87% reduction compared to the 5-year average.

Processed potato product imports also saw a drop off in July 2020 compared to last year (-17%) and the 5-year average (-6%). Also seeing a drop in imports from the Netherlands who normally makes up over 50% of the imports of processed potato products but in July 2020 only accounted for 40%. 

A large driver of the drop in processed potato products is from frozen imports. In July 2020, 45.11Kt of frozen potato products were imported into the UK compared to 58.65Kt the previous year. With much of the food service industry only just reopening in July and a backlog of 2019 domestic supplies it is not surprising that imports were reduced.  

Additional information

For a full downloadable dataset of UK trade volumes through HMRC reporting, visit our potatoes trade page

Source: AHDB

Alice Bailey,
AHDB
Senior Analyst Potatoes

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