Couched potatoes resting across UK

Potato stocks are up almost 25% on last season, according to AHDB

The amount of potatoes sitting in storage on farms across the country is up by almost a quarter on last year, according to AHDB Potatoes.

Figures from the levy body suggest that GB potato stock levels for the end of November 2017 were 3.6million tonnes.

This is the highest amount of tatties in storage at this point in the season since 2011-12.

“Last December we estimated the GB production figures to be up by around 15%, at 6.04million tonnes, so the increase in stocks held in store has been expected,” said AHDB Potatoes analyst, Amber Cottingham.

She said the high production experienced during last year’s growing season was a result of a 5% increase in planted area to just over 303,000 acres, coupled with one of the highest average yields on record at 19.95tonnes per acre.

AHDB said that with much of the season still to come, high production figures suggest that it is unlikely potato supply will be as tight as it was in the past two seasons.

“We only measure the amount of crop in stores and not the quality,” said Ms Cottingham.

“We are aware that there have been storage quality issues reported, which could impact volume of the marketable stocks later in the season.”

She said data from the levy body’s new Potato Data Centre shows that production last reached the 6million tonnes mark in the 2011-12 season.

“However, from this point there are two diverging routes depending on your viewpoint. If we take into account the advances that have been made to utilise crops more efficiently in recent years, coupled with improved storage capability, we may see a slowing down of crop use as the season progresses,” added Ms Cottingham.

“On the other hand, this is very dependent on crop quality and reports suggest there have been quality issues this season due to poor conditions at harvest. This could have affected quality as crops went into store, which could impact wastage in store, and actually lead to a faster draw-down in stocks.”

The latest estimates come from an AHDB grower panel survey looking at stocks present by growers, but not purchasers, at the end of November last year.

Meanwhile, AHDB chief executive Jane King has hailed a successful trip to China alongside Prime Minister Theresa May, and business and industry leaders.

Ms King said the high quality and safety of British products would enable them to make their mark on the Chinese market.

She said: “Britain has a fantastic global reputation and is renowned for high standards of food quality and safety as well as animal welfare, which is of great importance to Chinese consumers. Therefore, it is vital that we continue to build on this positive trade visit to unlock the full potential for our producers here in the UK.”