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Current trends in the British potato industry

The English lockdown seems to have had a limited effect on the free-buy market. Packing demand is leading the way, with chipping seasonally quiet and processing continuing to see trade covered primarily by contracts. Some quality issues are being reported due to bruising, wet rots and also wireworm and slug damage.

Alice Bailey, Senior Analyst Potatoes at AHDB reports.

Market Commentary

Packing

  • Retail trade has not seen the uplifts experienced during the last lockdown, but there is demand for both Whites and Maris Piper for retail.
  • There does seem to be an increased demand for Maris Piper over Whites though, with these still gaining a premium.
  • Maris Piper, both English and Scottish, are priced similar to the same time last year, with the high end obtaining a touch more than a year ago.
England
Scotland

Bags

  • Fortunately for the fresh chipping market the English lockdown hasn’t had as dramatic an effect as the first lockdown, with most shops able to continue serving.
  • Whiles prices have remained stable, volumes are said to be down a touch with cautious buying from shops.
  • The lockdown also hasn’t affected sales of general bagged ware through farm shops, whereas in the last lockdown we saw a positive market here.
  • Chipping material is currently priced below the same time last year across all regions. This is likely due to the effects of coronavirus throughout the summer. Summer is usually the busiest time for the chipping trade, relying heavily on tourism usually starting around Easter and continuing through to the end of the school summer holidays. This year coronavirus hampered trade, resulting in more material now available to the market.
East
West
South

Processing

  • Processing trade continues slowly, with a lot of the trade covered on contract.
  • The free-buy peeling price is estimated to be below last season for both Maris Piper and Whites.

Exports

  • Lack of tourism in the Canary Islands could reduce the need for exports. As it stands trade is continuing and is gaining a premium over domestic trade as a general rule.
  • Anecdotally, King Edwards are reaching a further premium to other varieties moving to the Canaries, but we are unable to publish a price due to data thresholds.
  • There are still some reports of fresh potatoes moving into Ireland, but at reduced volumes. We are unable to publish any prices due to data thresholds not being met.

Source: AHDB

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