Grower held potato stocks in Britain as at the end of January sit at 2.11Mt, 39% of total production, 47.4Kt lower than in January 2020, but 40.86Kt higher than the 5-year average. Of this, 61% is already sold, either on pre-season contracts or as a forward sale.
According to a report by AHDB Senior Analyst Potatoes, Alice Bailey, the stocks figures do not account for potatoes held by packers, processor, merchant’s etc.; it is only representing what was on-farm as at the end of January.
Bailey points out in the report that Scotland accounted for 29% (608.7Kt) of what remained in grower ownership at the end of January. This represents almost half of total Scottish potato production still in store and more than at the same point last year.
While there was a slight uplift in production in Scotland, much of the Scottish area grown is for seed production. Therefore, slower seed sales may account for some of this volume. There have been reports that many growers delayed their seed orders this year whilst deciding what to plant, seemingly awaiting some positive news for the industry as the coronavirus story pans out.
Those growing seed are also facing political uncertainty around UK exports to the European Union.
AHDB’s Head of Potato Exports, Patrick Hughes has been working with the government to supply evidence to those in UK and EU trade talks. According to a FarmingUK report, he said the UK and the EU continued to discuss equivalence for seed potatoes, and progress was being made.
“As things stand, it is very unlikely that a future trade deal in seed potatoes will be in place prior to seed crop planting for the 2021 season,” Mr Hughes reportedly noted.