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AHDB Potato Weekly

UK: Processed potato trade sees quieter levels of demand

Free-buy markets experienced a downturn in trade this week, with most overall demand met by contracted material. Markets have seen demand dampened by the coronavirus pandemic, with Christmas parties this year restricted by government guidelines. Chipping markets have seen demand hit by the wetter weather, seasonal declines and reduced footfall amid lockdown measures, with competition from other takeaway restaurants. Persistent wet weather has paused lifting for some still clearing, particularly pockets of the East, Northern regions and some Scottish areas.

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Packing for retail seems to have found its demand level for the lockdown so far, not changing week-on-week. Maris Piper continues to receive a premium above other varieties, with prices holding firm from last week. Demand has been seen for this variety ahead of most other whites. There has been reports of some tonnages moving between stores ahead of the Christmas demand, with best quality a key factor in this. Demand for reds is firming, with prices strengthening slightly from the previous week. Demand for salads has been relatively muted with the exception of absolute best quality supplies. The closure of ‘sit-down’ meal occasions is a factor.

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Most chip shop trade orders have been on a repeat basis from last week, with prices unchanged. The wetter weather has reportedly had an impact on footfall levels to some fish and chip shops. Seasonal downturn for demand continues. There were anecdotal reports of some better demand from Wales, following the end of the ‘fire-break’ lockdown. Some suggest this could be an element of restocking rather than a solid level of demand. As a result of the poorer demand levels reported across the West, we are unable to publish variety specific prices this week and instead have included a ‘whites’ price.
Some quality issues have been reported where supplies have been lifted wet and stored; some skin blemish issues appearing in a small number of Maris Piper samples.



The processing trade has seen quieter levels of demand, with free-buy prices declining slightly from last week. Much of this demand is able to be met using contracted supplies. An increase in freshly lifted supplies moving off the field straight to peeling markets was reported, with storage a risk for quality. Retail demand for processing supplies seems to have found its level over recent weeks, with no movements in demand.

We are unable to publish export prices this week, due to data thresholds which were unable to be met. Despite this, anecdotal reports suggest export movement continues to occur to the Canary Islands in steady volumes. 

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