UK potato trade at low levels in all sectors

This week has seen the free-buy potato trade in all sectors at low levels. As we near the end of the 2019 season we hear of contracts and material bought ahead being “cleared” up in preparation of new-crop supply.

With the government’s latest announcements surrounding lockdown measures easing further, there is an air of quiet optimism that trade may pick up a little in certain sectors. This is a long way off being realised though.

Crops are looking very good across the country however there are reports of reduced tuber numbers in some crops resulting in lower yield expectations.

Earlies
Earlies trade remains sluggish. There seems to be a reduction in demand for earlies on the free-buy market with the lack of catering demand being felt.

A few early chipping samples have made an appearance but with contributors reporting chipping demand down overall, the requirement for new-crop material is somewhat limited.

Accord prices have been variable. From around £280/t in the East but over £400/t in the South at the beginning of the week.

Most lifting of earlies potatoes is moving on contract with growers reluctant to lift too much for the free-buy market due to the lacking trade opportunities apparent.

We have had limited quotes of earlies from Essex this week compared to previous but from what we have had, prices dropped another £1/25kg from last week’s £13.50 per 25kg bag average.
Southern free-buy prices for earlies are limited with the majority of lifted material moving on contract.

Packing
The free-buy packing market is subdued this week.
Demand has really curtailed over the past few weeks with both farm shop and retail demand seemingly down compared to previous weeks.
Contracted material is still being utilised wherever possible in the packing trade.

Bags
Supply of both Agria and Sagitta have really tightened up now, with minimal reports of either. Markies remain in supply but quality is getting more difficult to work with.

Demand has remained fairly quiet for the chipping trade this week.
There is however, an air of optimism surrounding trade going forward. The potential for increased UK holidaying could help to boost coastal trade in the summer, although this will likely be too late to help with old-crop movement.

New-crop chipping material is starting to poke its head onto the market and the “standoff” between old and new is nearing.

Processing
Free-buy processing demand is at a minimum this week with small amounts of peeling material moving. Contracted supply continues to be a key mover within this sector.

Exports
Movement of chipping material in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland has continued this week but in very low volumes.

Source: AHDB.org.uk


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