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Seed potato exports from GB outstrip previous levels once more

As Potato Council and the GB seed potato sector prepare for next months’ Potato Europe event in Germany, recent export statistics confirm that GB seed potatoes continue to be in demand around the world, with the 2013/14 figures revealing a new seed exports record from Britain.

A diverse range of certified British potato varieties are exported for growing potato crops overseas, and seed export tonnages from GB have risen steadily and strongly over the last ten years. From around 70,000 tonnes in 2002 to well over 100,000 tonnes over the 2013/14 export season, GB seed potato exports have risen by over 30%, which is an exports success story by any standards.

However, what some people may not know is that Yorkshire is an up-and-coming producer and exporter of high quality seed potatoes in its own right. An increasing amount of seed potatoes are grown in the Yorkshire Wolds, an area approximately the size of Birmingham, which 30 years ago was not used for growing potatoes at all. Over the 2013/2014 export season, record tonnages of over 103,000 tonnes of seed potatoes were exported from GB, including an increasing amount of Yorkshire seed sent to countries such as Egypt.

Edward Lindley, a seed grower from Driffield in Yorkshire, exports ‘Hermes’ variety to Egypt and explains, “We grow Pre-Basic (PB) and Super Elite (SE) grades of seed potato here in Yorkshire and seed production in this region has increased significantly in recent years. I am able to produce around 80% of my own seed potatoes for multiplying up each year.” Edward goes on to explain “We can lift and dry the seed crop that little bit earlier down here so we can supply the earlier overseas markets comfortably. And because we are just that bit closer to our markets, transport costs are marginally lower and we can pass those savings on to the seed customer.”

Robert Burns, head of seed and export at Potato Council indicated that the next export season should be as good, if not better. Robert remarks “The GB seed crop has grown well this season, with a good supply of different varieties available. We have seen increasingly strong exports, and having talked to our contacts overseas, seed tonnages to key markets are expected to rise further for the 2014/2015 season and we are well positioned to fulfil that demand.”

The continuing success of GB’s seed potato exports can be attributed in no small part to the way the whole industry collaborates with Potato Council and the plant health authorities on key plant health and certification issues. This ensures that seed from Britain will remain high health and high quality, meeting and exceeding customers’ stringent requirements across the continents.

Worldwide industry can visit Potato Council and leading variety breeders, seed producers, researchers and crop storage experts on the dedicated GB industry stand at Potato Europe, 3-4 September 2014 near Hannover in Germany. The GB stand (ZC-09) will be in the trade marquee where visitors will find expert advice on seed potatoes and research, a warm welcome and traditional British hospitality.

For more information:
Sophie Lock
Potato Council
Tel: +44 (0) 2476478772

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